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Gingrich also sides with New Hampshire over first primary debacle

Add former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the list of 2012 competitors who will not participate in Nevada if that state’s caucuses interfere with New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

“As a citizen, I have always supported New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary,” Gingrich said in a prepared statement.

“Now, as a candidate for president, I am committed to competing in and maintaining the first-in-the-nation status of the New Hampshire primary. Therefore, I will not compete in a state which holds its contest inside of one week of New Hampshire. I trust Governors Romney and Perry will join me in protecting the New Hampshire primary and campaigning in New Hampshire towards a January 10th primary contest.”

Earlier Thursday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman indicated he would not compete in Nevada if it maintained its current caucus date of Jan. 14. Although Huntsman challenged all the 2012 GOP candidates to follow suit, he, like Gingrich, specifically called out frontrunner Mitt Romney — the campaign that is believed to have played a role in Nevada’s decision to set such an early date. Gingrich, however, is the first to single out Rick Perry.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner sounded the “December alarm” earlier this week, indicating that his state would move into 2011 for its primary if Nevada left it no other choice. By state law, the New Hampshire contest must precede any other contest by at least 7 days. Since Iowa has tentatively named Jan. 3 as its caucus date, and New Hampshire is locked into a Tuesday election, there is no wiggle-room left in January for Gardner.

Although the four states sanctioned by the two prominent national political parties to begin the nominating process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — were scheduled to hold their contests in February, a Florida committee chose to usurp the rules and move its primary to Jan. 31.

Any state in violation of the nominating calendar set forth by the political parties can face sanctions, namely a loss of delegates to the national convention. Because the political parties have not historically followed through with such penalties, however, states have mostly scoffed at the possible consequences.

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