Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said over the weekend that if Florida refuses to blink in its standoff with national party officials over the date of its 2012 presidential primary, Iowa will shift the date of its caucuses to ensure it has the first say next year.
Vowing to lead off the 2012 primary calendar no matter what the date, Branstad told CNN, "We did it last time. We will do it again. We will be first and New Hampshire will be after us."
Currently, Florida's 2012 primary is set for Jan. 31, but Gov. Rick Scott (R) is under heavy pressure from the Republican National Committee to move it to a later date and fall in line with new rules approved by both national party committees last year: Other than Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, no state may hold a presidential nominating contest before March 1.
During a recent trip to Florida, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Florida lawmakers he wants the primary moved to March or later.
While Scott has sounded amenable to shifting the date, many Florida Republicans are arguing against it, including Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R). Earlier this month, Rubio said that moving the primary would make Florida less relevant in the 2012 process and warned the RNC not to punish his state for holding a January primary.
"If the RNC thinks the way to win Florida — which they cannot win the presidency without — is to sanction the most important swing state in the country, then good luck to them," Rubio said.
Branstad, however, didn't demand that Florida move its date, but made clear that if the date remains Jan. 31, it will set off an early state scramble similar to the one that preceded the 2008 presidential nominating season.
"Far be it for me to tell Florida what to do," he said. "But we are committed to being the first contest in the country. We have moved it before and we will do it again."