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NH, Iowa forge partnership in presidential selection process

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 23. 2011 9:20PM

CONCORD - Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn made his first trip to the Granite State on Thursday and pledged to work with his New Hampshire counterparts to maintain the two states' traditional lead-off spots in the presidential selection process.

'There is no daylight between Iowa and New Hampshire in protecting our states' roles,' Strawn said. 'You have an ally in the Hawkeye State.'

Appearing at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building, Strawn said he was in the state to meet party officials and others connected with the presidential primary and discuss maintaining the two states' traditional role in the nominating process.

'I want to make sure New Hampshire Republicans understand not only do they have an ally in Iowa, but that the concerns in Iowa are the concerns in New Hampshire,' he said.

After the press conference Strawn met with Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who sets the date for the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, and later in the day met with State Republican Party chairman Jack Kimball.

New Hampshire law requires Gardner to set the primary date at least seven days before any similar event.

Strawn said he wants the two states, along with South Carolina, to present a united front to maintain their traditional roles and to appeal to the Republican National Committee to ensure non-compliant states follow the nominating calendar adopted by two-thirds of the national committee last year.

Both national parties set calendars designed to address the race to move states to the beginning of the nominating process. The calendars prohibit any nominating event before March. 6, 2012 except for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, who can hold their caucuses and primaries in February.

Florida and Michigan have already jumped ahead of the schedule. Florida, which is scheduled to host the party's 2012 national nominating convention in Tampa, has scheduled its primary for Jan. 31, 2012. Under pressure from the RNC, lawmakers recently established a bipartisan commission to decide the best date for its primary.

Michigan has said it will decide later this summer what date it will hold its primaries, but without changes in Florida and Michigan laws, both states will be out of compliance with the calendar and face sanctions. Under the RNC rules, states must set their primary or caucus dates by Oct. 1.

The race to be first has caused both Iowa and New Hampshire to move the date of their events earlier and earlier. In 2008, Iowa and New Hampshire were forced to hold their events soon after New Year's Day. The Iowa caucus was held Jan. 3, and the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8.

Nothing prevents Gardner from scheduling the primary in 2011, which would likely mean the Iowa caucuses would be held before 2012 as well.

Strawn said he is 'an eternal optimist' and hopes that doesn't happen.

'When I'm wrapping my Christmas gifts, I don't want a knock at the door from a candidate,' Strawn said.

Last summer, when the RNC approved its calendar, states were looking for certainty and predictability in the nominating schedule, Gardner said.

'I've been very clear with Republicans in Iowa,' Strawn said, 'while the date may change the order won't. Iowa and New Hampshire will lead the nominating process.'

Strawn had a similar message after meeting with Kimball, who said 'We are basically attached at the hip when it comes to staying first in the nation,' and noted there is a common bond between both parties on the issue.

'It is important for our presidential candidates to have that face-to-face contact with the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire because they really do the vetting for the country,' he said.

Kimball said moving the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses to January or before is 'unfair to the parties, it's unfair to the candidates.'


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