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Contention, Confusion Mar Missouri Caucuses
The Associated Press | March 18, 2012 | 07:53 AM EDT

Contention and confusion marred various Republican caucuses in Missouri on Saturday, and one meeting was abruptly shut down, as impassioned supporters of Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul battled for an edge in the state's complicated delegate selection process.

A caucus at a school near St. Louis where roughly 2,500 Republicans had gathered was adjourned before a vote could take place because it got so rowdy that extra police were summoned and two people were arrested for trespassing. Elsewhere, political tensions and divisions led to recounts not only on votes over which candidates should be supported, but even which people should preside over the caucuses.

"It looks like a chaotic day around Missouri," said former senator Jim Talent, a Romney campaign adviser who participated in one of the more politically divided caucuses in St. Louis County.

There was no declared winner from Missouri's nearly 140 local caucuses. That's because state party rules did not require delegates to be bound to any particular candidate and no straw poll was conducted. Rather, the local caucuses were to elect 2,123 people to advance to congressional district conventions April 21 and a state convention June 2. It's at those meetings that the bulk of Missouri's 52 delegates will be bound to presidential candidates.

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