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Nevada hedges on January caucus

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Wed October 19, 2011
Five GOP presidential hopefuls say they will boycott Nevada's caucuses if the date doesn't accommodate New Hampshire.
Five GOP presidential hopefuls say they will boycott Nevada's caucuses if the date doesn't accommodate New Hampshire.
  • Nevada may reconsider its January caucus date
  • The state is being pressured to change from January 14
  • States are jostling to get to the front of the political calendar

(CNN) -- More jostling may be in store ahead of the 2012 primary season.

Three days after telling CNN's TJ Holmes that Nevada's January 14 caucus date was firm despite boycott threats, state GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian appeared to hedge, if only just a bit.

"It's not necessarily a different answer. It's just the more discussions you have the more you take into perspective," she said after Tuesday night's GOP debate in Las Vegas. "You just have to weigh pros and cons -- so, as of now, we are still on the 14th."

Five GOP presidential candidates have said they will boycott Nevada's caucuses if the date is not altered to accommodate New Hampshire.

Nevada's role in the 2012 election

The five candidates are Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Huntsman went a step further by skipping Tuesday's debate.

"I don't feel pressure," Tarkanian said of the boycott threat. "I just want to make sure I do the right thing."

On Saturday, there was no such uncertainty.

"We're going to stick to our date," Tarkanian said, when asked by Holmes if she would consider moving the party's scheduled caucus date. "It's not on the table. The executive board, and myself, are sticking to our date."

States, seeking to have a greater say who will be the party's next presidential candidate, have been leapfrogging each other ahead of what had been the scheduled March 6 start date for the primary and caucus season.

Nevada is one of four "carve-out" states -- the others are Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- the early contests on the calendar that typically establish who the contenders are.

The primary season began to shift closer to the holiday season when Florida ignored Republican National Committee rules and bumped it primary date to January 31, causing the carve-out states to reposition themselves.

Pushing ahead of Florida first was South Carolina's GOP, which announced last week that it would hold its primary on January 21.

New Hampshire and Iowa hold the nation's first primary and caucuses, respectively. While Iowa is slated for January 3, New Hampshire has yet to announce.

"I don't know when we'll be, but it won't be four days ahead of Nevada," New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told CNN last week, adding he was waiting on Nevada's GOP.

New Hampshire's presidential primary election statute requires the state's primary to be held at least seven days before the next contest.

The uncertainty over New Hampshire could mean the 2012 primary season starts in December.

CNN's Joshua Rubin contributed to this report

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