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Democrats move up 2004 primary schedule

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a bid to give its presidential hopefuls more of a competitive edge, the Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to move up the start date for its 2004 primaries to February from March.

The committee also chose to protect the leadoff positions for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

With the exception of those states, the Democrats' Super Tuesday will move to the first Tuesday in February, or February 3, 2004, from the first Tuesday in March.

South Carolina Democrats already have chosen to move their state's primary to the earlier date, and other states also can pick the option.

Iowa's precinct caucuses could be held January 19, or no earlier than 15 days before the first Tuesday in February. New Hampshire's primary could be held January 27, or no earlier than seven days before February 3.

Michigan's Democratic chairman, Mark Brewer, opposed the decision to preserve the early starting dates for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, saying it gives those states an unfair advantage in the presidential selection process.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan agreed, saying, "No state should have that privilege."

-- CNN producer Kate Farrell contributed to this report.




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