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Columbia Missourian

McCain wins state, but Romney wins over Boone County voters

By JENN HERSEIM
February 6, 2008 | 12:34 a.m. CST

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the primary in Boone County by a thin margin over Arizona Sen. John McCain Tuesday night.

The county results clashed with the statewide results that made McCain the recipient of Missouri’s 58 GOP delegates.

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The Boone County Republican primary proved that every vote makes a difference in this bellwether state.

Romney’s total of 5,670 votes to McCain’s 4,935 was only a 4.68 percent difference with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Statewide, McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee see-sawed back and forth all night until a late surge put McCain ahead enough to call a winner. Late results put McCain less than a percentage point ahead of Huckabee.

With immigration and the war in Iraq on his mind, Larry Ohlemeyer, a banker, said he voted for Romney.

“He is the only candidate who is going to protect us against immigration and terrorists,” Ohlemeyer said.

The economy, the war in Iraq and immigration were issues concerning voters casting ballots for candidates across the Republican slate.

Justin Philips, 19, said he voted for McCain. A Bush supporter, Philips said a change in leadership would benefit the country.

“My main issue is Iraq,” he said. “I feel that with him having such a great military background, he probably can be the one to help us, get us out of there safely and bring all the troops home.”

Ron Paul’s economic plan appealed to nuclear engineer Michael Flagg, 37, of Boone County who was concerned about the decreased federal funding for government programs.

“There was one candidate I wanted to get my vote in for, even if he’s a long shot: Ron Paul,” he said.

Character and general trustworthiness played a substantial role forBoone County voters interviewed on Super Tuesday.

Patrick Wheeler, 50, assistant professor of accounting at MU, said the war and domestic issues were important to him. He voted for Huckabee. “He is more honest and believable,” Wheeler said.

Vic Freuning, 60, a country club manager in Columbia, said he looked for experience when choosing a candidate, and McCain’s record prevailed.

“None of them have any kind of foreign policy experience,” he said. “McCain’s probably the closest.”