Huntsman hits Romney over Nevada primary date

Jon Huntsmans campaign Thursday accused Mitt Romneys campaign of trying to game the system as the Republican primary schedule is hashed out.

Huntsmans criticism is in response to a report that the Romney camp had quietly been pushing for Nevada to move its caucus to Jan. 14, 2012, close to the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, which Romney is expected to win handily.

Its unfortunate that the Romney campaign is trying to game the system for their own benefit and at the detriment of Granite Staters, Huntsman adviser Paul Collins said Thursday in a news release circulated among New Hampshire newspapers. Their move could harm the future of holding the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Granite Staters are looking for a chance to meet an alternative candidate who better represents their ideals and is truly authentic.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Romneys campaign urged Nevada Republicans to move their primary to January so the former Massachusetts governor could take advantage of momentum he expects to gain in a good showing in New Hampshire.

The schedule for GOP presidential primaries was thrown into disarray when Florida officially moved its primary to Jan. 31 and forced Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to move their contests to earlier dates.

On Wednesday, the Nevada Republican Party announced that it was moving its caucus up to Jan. 14, making Jan. 3 the likely date for New Hampshire to head to the polls.

Former Utah Gov. Huntsman has bet his campaigns future on a strong showing in New Hampshire that could then buoy him into tight competition with Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — the two current leaders in the Republican presidential field.