GOP Candidates to Boycott Nev. Caucus, Debate

New GOP front-runner Herman Cain joined four Republican presidential contenders to boycott the Nevada GOP Caucus after it reportedly moved up its caucus date from February to January.

Cain, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have all vowed to protest Nevada's caucus in the 2012 presidential primary.

In addition to boycotting the caucus, Huntsman plans to boycott the Nevada debate as well. He is the only candidate planning to boycott the debate thus far.

Cain's New Hampshire field director, Charlie Spano, told Politico, "If the Nevada caucus interferes with the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Cain will not participate."

Santorum's statement responded, "Nevada's move has potentially forced the other early states to have primaries near Christmas – and that destroys the primary process."

The presidential contenders were also upset by news reports that fellow presidential contender Mitt Romney lobbied the state to move its date to boost his campaign's momentum.

The GOP of Nevada announced in early October that it pushed its caucus date from February 18 to January 14. The date change violates the Republican National Committee rules and could cost the group half its delegates.

GOP National Committeeman Robert List told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Romney campaigned pressed the group for the date change.

"We moved the date for the good of Nevada, not the Romney campaign," List told the Review-Journal. "But Romney's people were pushing for us to move into January so that he could get some momentum and have a rising tide going into Florida."

Romney is believed to be a front-runner in the Nevada caucus, and an early victory could help him with other primaries.

Santorum told Politico, "It's not surprising when a campaign pushes for a leg up on the competition. But what is surprising in this case is that reports show Gov. Romney's campaign appears to be pushing a state to break the rules for his campaign's benefit."

He accused Romney of "trying to bully states" and demanded he apologize.

Jon Huntsman's advisers suggested that Romney had acted dishonestly.

"It's unfortunate that the Romney campaign is trying to game the system for their own benefit and at the detriment of Granite Staters," senior Huntsman adviser Paul Collins said in a statement to NBC News. "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."

Nevada was not the only state to change in caucus date in anticipation for 2012 Republican caucus. South Carolina moved its date to Saturday, Jan. 21. Florida changed its primary to Jan. 31. Nevada's caucus may put New Hampshire, normally the first primary of the year, in a tough spot if it wishes to remain competitive.

New Hampshire state law declares that no state can hold a "similar contest" within seven days of the state's primary.

Santorum urged states to "stop the insanity" and quit playing with the primary calendar.

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