MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Sen. John McCain may be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but supporters of Ron Paul in Montana refused to abandon their candidate.
The group led an impassioned fight Friday at the Montana GOP convention, shaking things up in a failed effort to secure the state's 22 national convention delegates for Paul - who suspended his presidential bid earlier this month.
While the battle jazzed up a normally dull delegate selection process, Paul supporters could not muster enough votes to trump McCain's backers. In the end, McCain received all 22 delegates despite a close vote, party officials said.
Earlier in the evening, Paul told the crowd that his support in Montana was the best he had received anywhere.
"Montana's been treating me quite well," he said. "The spirit is alive here."
The Texas congressman praised the Montana GOP for letting him speak at their evening dinner and for giving his delegates a chance.
"This is has been one of the best - if not the best - in the way we have been treated," Paul said.
Paul was not a typical GOP convention headliner. He criticized nearly as many Bush administration ideas, such as wartime spending and No Child Left Behind, as he did Democratic ones.
But he received a warm reception from the crowd anyway with a message heavy on cutting government.
"We are talking about the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party," said Paul, in what he characterized as likely the last speech of his suspended campaign. "These are issues that are important to me."
Paul's supporters said they would continue to fight for delegates at the national convention to honor the principles of the campaign, and as a way to continue pushing their ideals.
Paul finished second in Montana's Super Tuesday caucus - behind Mitt Romney and ahead of McCain, who came in third.