He wasn’t even present, but Republican candidate Mitt Romney took home the top prize in the Wyoming caucuses on Saturday anyway.

Although a small win in the overall election 2008 run-up, the result lends more strength to Romney’s campaign going into New Hampshire for Tuesday’s primary.

“Today,” former Massachusetts governor Romney said in a statement to the press, “the people of Wyoming took the first step towards bringing true conservative change to Washington.

“From Gillette to Jackson and Riverton to Cheyenne, my family and I visited Wyoming many times, meeting with residents and addressing the issues most important to voters in the Cowboy State.”

Romney took seven of the state’s 12 delegates with almost all precincts now reported in.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson came in second in the caucuses, taking home two delegates.

California Representative Duncan Hunter placed third and won one delegate to go on to the GOP convention later this year.

Two delegates still remain undecided until final tally results come in later today.

A final two delegates will be elected at the Wyoming state convention.

Normally the Wyoming caucuses receive little national attention due to the state’s low population.

However, Republican leaders pushed the date of the caucus up to fall between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary to draw more attention to the state.

Wyoming typically has a total of 28 delegates to hand out, but the Republican national party stripped the state of half its delegates for moving their caucuses to January.

New Hampshire has also been stripped of half its delegates for pushing their primary before February 5th, against the national party’s rules.

Amy Larimer, executive director of the Wyoming Republican Party said she was disappointed by Presidential candidates who skipped directly from the Iowa caucuses to the New Hampshire primary, according to USA Today.

“Wyoming’s been a bit overlooked,” she said on Friday. None of the candidates have visited the state for a month or more.

Romney lost dramatically in the Republican caucuses in Iowa to former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee.

Fred Thompson came in third in the state, with John McCain close behind.

Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani received virtually no real support in the Iowa caucuses.

Ann Turner © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.