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Jon Huntsman will boycott next Tuesday's Nevada debate, hold NH town hall instead

Gov. John Huntsman just told me that he is going to boycott next Tuesday's Nevada Republican presidential debate in protest over Nevada's encroachment on New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status. While the debate is going on, he will hold a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

"We're fulfilling our obligations under this boycott to the maximum extent," he said." We said that we would not campaign in Nevada because of what they're doing in leapfrogging the caucuses forward, which I think is a disservice to our democracy.

"We're going to boycott the debate. We're going to be here answering questions and doing a town hall meeting."

Nevada moved its caucus date to Jan. 14 after Florida moved its primary to Jan. 31. Iowa intends to hold its caucus on Jan. 3. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has indicated he doesn't want to hold the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10 because Nevada is a "similar election" under the New Hampshire primary tradition and the state law says the primary must be held at least a week before any similar election. Gardner is considering moving the primary into December to uphold the tradition, which would be unprecedented.

Huntsman said he thinks the front-loading this year is hurting the whole process and is bad for the country.

"I'm concerned about where this is taking us; compressing the schedule, taking the right of some citizens away to weigh the candidates. We have a system that has served us well, it is transparent, it is accountable," he said.

Other candidates who don't boycott the Nevada debate are not really boycotting Nevada, he said.

"Others are talking about a boycott, which may be just a little bit disingenuous," he said.

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