Wash. caucuses come into focus for GOP campaign

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Republican presidential race is heading West. And it soon may be arriving in Washington state.

Washington's presidential nominating votes don't typically carry much weight, but state GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur suspects this year could be the most important one for Republicans since Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan battled in their 1976 campaign. If the race does last to Washington's caucus on March 3, the state could be a critical indicator of momentum heading into the Super Tuesday vote that takes place two days later.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have already been building their operations in Washington while Newt Gingrich recently launched his campaign work here. Romney is planning a fundraiser in the state on March 1.