Romney camp accuses McCain, Huckabee of shady West Virginia deal

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign accused Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee of “a backroom deal” that gave the early Super Tuesday win in West Virginia to Huckabee.

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Romney, who addressed the state GOP convention in person Tuesday, comfortably led the first ballot at the convention, leading to a three-way second ballot contest between the three contenders.

Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic reported Tuesday that, after the first ballot, McCain’s campaign called his supporters there and urged them to vote in favor of Huckabee.

“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change,” Beth Myers, Romney’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

Huckabee won the contest on the second ballot with 567 votes, or 51 percent, to Romney’s 521 votes, which put him at 47 percent. McCain finished the second ballot with 12 votes.

On the first ballot, McCain had 176 votes to Huckabee’s 375 and Romney’s 464 votes.

Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) received 118 votes on the first ballot, but because he failed to finish in the top three, he was not included on the second ballot.

By winning Tuesday’s state convention, Huckabee was awarded 18 of the state’s 30 delegates.

The McCain campaign did not immediately respond to comment for this story.