CHARLESTON, W.V. -- Mitt Romney hoped that a personal appearance at West Virginia's Republican delegate convention would help him secure a win in the first prize that Super Tuesday has to offer.
"I'll make sure that the house that Reagan built is the house we live in," Romney said to the crowd that was composed mostly of the 1,207 county delegates. "I'll make sure we reach across the aisle but we don't walk across the aisle. I'll make sure we live by the principles that have made this party great."
Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee were also scheduled to speak in Charleston.
The winner of the convention will receive 18 of West Virginia's 30 delegates. Nine more will be awarded in a May primary, and the other three are at-large delegates who are all committed to the former Massachusetts governor, according to Romney's senior adviser in the state John McCutcheon.
West Virginia has long been a key state in Romney's strategy, as the former Massachusetts governor has had a ground operation here since July of 2006.
The convention had a free-for-all feel, as the crowd, which was largely divided between Romney supporters (who appeared to make up the majority) and Ron Paul devotees, cheered loudly for their preferred candidates.
According to McCutcheon, Romney had 280 committed delegates out of the total of 1,207—most of whom went into the convention uncommitted.
The Romney campaign hoped that a first-ballot win for the governor would provide momentum and positive news early in the day, while voters in other states cast their ballots.