It’s a tactic that those of us who watched the primary calendar jumping of 2008 remember well. Now that Nevada and Florida have thrown the nomination schedule into chaos, Republican presidential candidates are starting to fight back.
Of course, no one is going to punish Florida, who basically started the whole mess. Florida has a lot of delegates to win, even if they do end up losing half their slate as a punishment for primarying early. And as the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, it’s pretty hard to thumb your nose at them this cycle.
So it’s Nevada taking the full brunt for going out of order, and now candidates are showing their solidarity for New Hampshire by telling the southern state that if they won’t play by the rules, no one will bother to show up there.
It began with former Governor Jon Huntsman, who blamed Nevada for moving up due to encouragement from front runner Mitt Romney. Huntsman, who has already focused his entire campaign on New Hampshire, at the expense of every other state, has declared he will not be attending the October 18th Nevada debate. Instead, he’ll be holding a town hall in New Hampshire at the time.
Of course, that’s pretty easy for him to say. With a poll rating of under 2 percent, there’s a very strong possibility he wasn’t going to be invited, anyway.
Now, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum have all said they will join in on a Nevada caucus boycott, unless the state moves back its event to let New Hampshire have the January 10th contest (Nevada would have to move their event back to the 17th at least in order to give New Hampshire their “state mandated” 7 day buffer). Which would serve to their advantage anyway, since none of them have the finances to really compete in that state.
One candidate not going along with the plan? Congressman Ron Paul. “This talk of boycotts doesn’t serve the electoral process any more than the states’ jockeying for position and primacy,” Paul said in a statement. “New Hampshire deserves its rightful place as the first primary in the nation, but we will fight to preserve that place without depriving Nevada or Iowa voters of their say in the 2012 nomination process.”
Of course, this puts Romney in an awkward situation. With a definite lead in Nevada, he doesn’t want to back out altogether, but he doesn’t want to alienate New Hampshire, either, both because of its position in the primary hierarchy and his huge lead in that state, too. Hence, the ambivalent and noncommittal answer to the issue of a boycott.
Meanwhile, the New Hampshire GOP itself is urging the Secretary of State to simply hold the event on January 10th and stop the talk of a 2011 primary. They believe the primary is different enough from a caucus to not violate state law about “similar events.”
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