AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Mitt Romney is expected to campaign in Maine on Friday, just one day before the state GOP releases results of its presidential preference poll.
Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster told The Associated Press that Romney is expected to speak Friday evening at a rally at Portland Yacht Services.
The only other candidate to visit Maine has been Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has been running in fourth place in a four-way race. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have not campaigned in Maine and do not have much organizational support here.
Romney has been leading the Republican race since the beginning and strengthened his position with wins in New Hampshire and Florida. Santorum, however, won primaries in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota this week, and could be picking up momentum.
Still, most GOP insiders in Maine believe Romney and Paul are the leading candidates here.
Romney’s son Tagg Romney came to Maine last weekend to address a handful of caucuses around the state. Paul spent two days campaign in Maine ahead of last weekend.
Romney was supported by more than 50 percent of Republicans in the 2008 caucuses even though he did not campaign personally in Maine.
Romney has the backing of many influential state Republicans, including Senate President Kevin Raye, who is running against U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for Maine’s 2nd Congressional seat.
“In order for the economy to rebound, Washington needs to stop erecting roadblocks for job creators,” Raye said in a recent statement. “Mitt Romney understands the importance of strengthening small business and American manufacturing.
“As president, he will lead the way to rein in the federal debt, reverse the explosive growth of government, and reduce the regulatory burden on America’s businesses to foster an environment that is favorable for job creation.”
In 2008, President Barack Obama carried the state of Maine and its four electoral votes with nearly 58 percent of vote.
The Maine Republican Party is hosting an event in Portland on Saturday evening to announce the results of a presidential preference poll. The actual statewide caucus results will not made final until May.
Correction: An early version of this story incorrectly stated that Mitt Romney won South Carolina.