Des Moines, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials pledged Monday to move up the state's 2012 presidential caucuses as early as needed to ensure the event remains the nation's first contest of White House hopefuls if Florida stands by plans for an early primary date.
National leaders have pledged to avoid a repeat of the 2008 competition that prompted
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn said both major parties have adopted rules that set the primary calendar - with
"The states involved, the candidates, the operatives, the activists, everybody really wanted to insert some certainty into the process so we didn't have to fight right up to the holiday season like we did four years ago," Strawn said.
Florida Republican Party chairman David Bitner said the state's Legislature likes the earlier date, but he's worried about the penalties for violating the national rules that put
"The last time around we were penalized, but this time it gets even more severe," Bitner said. "We stand to lose half our delegates and our sponsors and even our hotel privileges in
Still, state Sen. John Thrasher, a former state party chairman from
Florida Democrats have sought to move their primary to a later date in hopes of not repeating the 2008 fiasco. The parties punished the state that year for moving to an earlier date and forcing
The Democratic National Committee took away
Republican strategist Rich Galen said
Longtime Iowa Republican strategist Bob Haus said calendar fighting will continue until the parties get serious about sanctioning those who break the rules.
"Somebody needs to put their foot down and put a stop to this," Haus said. "This will continue to happen until someone puts their foot down and really lays down some retribution."
Former Iowa Republican Chairman Rich Schwarm said battling over the presidential calendar is all but inevitable, as other states seek the attention lavished on Iowa and New Hampshire, and to a lesser extent on the early states of South Carolina and Nevada.
"That is absolutely understandable," Schwarm said. "The other states do not think that Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have a God-given right to all this attention."