UPDATE: NH GOP Blasts Florida Primary Move
Florida is trying to leapfrog the Granite State.
UPDATE: 3:45 P.M.: Secretary of State William Gardner has a wait and see attitude about the vote by the Florida Legislature to set its presidential primary for Jan. 31, preferring not to extensively comment on the situation until after an upcoming meeting by the Republican National Committee, which is reportedly meeting on Sept. 30.
“Well, it’s not a done deal yet, is it?,” he asked. “I don’t think it is. I’m just going to wait … some states are still in play. Remember four years ago, it wasn’t Florida, it was Michigan and Michigan could potentially move."
Gardner said he did not know when he would be able to announce a primary date adding that he would wait until other factors in play settled themselves.
“First thing’s first, they have to make a decision as a commission and supposedly, they’re going to do that on Friday,” he said. “There are some states that haven’t set a date yet … there’s Michigan, there’s Georgia and South Carolina … I don’t know at this point. Let Friday come and go, and let’s see, officially, what Florida does.”
UPDATE, 2:30 P.M.: Former Gov. John Sununu said this morning that he isn't at all worried about Florida's decision to hold its presidential primary on Jan. 31.
"Iowa picks corn, Florida picks oranges, and New Hampshire picks presidents," quipped Sununu, who attended Mitt Romney's town hall meeting at Saint Anselm College today.
The former State Republican Party Chairman said Secretary of State William Gardner has dealt with this issue many times in the past, and will do so again.
"I have absolute faith in Bill Gardner," Sununu said.
Former Congressional candidate Jennifer Horn of Nashua said she is disappointed at the actions of the Florida Legislature, because the existing process is a proven way to evaluate the candidates.
"I would have preferred Florida honored the calendar," she said. "But there's no question New Hampshire will be first -- it's non-negotiable."
Even Romney weighed in, during a brief press conference following his town hall meeting, saying he respects the existing process, and plans to continue focusing on New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.
"They'll be first," he said. "This is where I'll be."
An earlier story follows:
New Hampshire Republican leaders today blasted a move by the Florida Legislature to hold its presidential primary on Jan. 31 in an attempt to leapfrog the Granite State.
"I would certainly hope that the Florida Legislature reconsiders this ill-conceived plan to accelerate their primary and to strengthen their own weight by," said NH House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, in a statement.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has vowed to uphold the Granite State's first-in-the-nation status.
Florida could be penalized by the Republican National Committee for breaking rules that allow only New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina to hold primary contests before March 1. The penalty could include Florida losing delegates.
"Florida may dilute the value of their primary, but we certainly won’t allow their actions to minimize the New Hampshire Primary," O'Brien added.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, also chimed in: "The State of New Hampshire has a long and storied history of vetting presidential candidates and we do it better than anyone else," he said in a statement.
"Florida should respect the integrity of the nominating process and play by the rules.”