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Special Report

Florida's Decision to Hold Early Primary

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Instant response. We asked you in the online poll should Florida be penalized if it wants the 2012 primary to be earlier. 23 percent said yes, 77 percent responded no. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HARIDOPOLOS, R-F.L., STATE SENATE PRESIDENT: Florida's hosting Republican National Convention in 2012. We don't think your gonna hold back Florida, the number one state for the presidential race in 2012. We just want to keep our position. We think it worked really well in 2008 and why not do it again here in 2012?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: If Florida sticks to January 31, there is really only one practical impact. They are going to force this presidential campaign back in to the Christmas season. That happened in 2008. It was universally unpopular.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: OK, so there you have it. They want January 31. The legislature moves the date. The RNC, the Republican National Committee says primaries can't start until February 1 with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada going before that. We're back with the panel. Chris, what about this, and is it important?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS EDITOR DIGITAL: Well it's important because I might have to go to Dubuque, Iowa for Christmas. And Dubuque is a good place and I like it, but I want to be with my family. But that doesn't matter because that's my job. The question --

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Bring them along.

STIREWALT: Tell Mary that and we'll see how she likes that.

The question here is, how much politics can America stand? And only so much. And one of the problems for the Republican Party here is, that at a crucial moment of getting to know you they really may be overlapping with the Christmas season where everyone is watching Peanuts Christmas Carol and not tuning in to see the debates and all of the last minute wrangling. So the early --

I think Larry Sabato is right. People hate this and they don't want it to be so early, but I think it's just unavoidable.

BAIER: So why then, Mort, is Florida pushing the envelope?

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well, I mean, Florida is a big state. It wants to be influential in the process. There ought to be a way for a big state to be -- ya know not just Iowa, New Hamshire, and South Carolina, and Nevada -- decide this. And in fact, the Republicans in Florida say that they want to be fifth. They don't want to be first. So I've worked out an easy schedule. February 6th is Iowa, February 13th is New Hampshire, February 20th is Nevada, February 27th is South Carolina, and Florida is March 6th or 5th, and everybody is happy and you can be home for Christmas.

STIREWALT: Sounds good. I don't think the Floridians are gonna go for it. And don't you think that eventually we are heading to national primary? Don't you think that's what this all comes down to?

BAIER: There are so many people Charles, and we talk about this every cycle, who question whether Iowa and New Hampshire should be given this much focus, this early. Is this really a test of a national spectrum of a candidate to be able to go to Iowa or New Hampshire? However, history has shown that's where it always starts.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look it's not fair. And actually Iowa really started with Jimmy Carter. He was the one who sort of invented it as the one that launched him. Before that it was a [INAUDIBLE] that really started in New Hampshire. Yes they are unrepresentative, it's illogical.

The problem is our democracy develops organically. I mean it's not all drawn up at the beginning in 1789 by Frenchmen who draw straight lines on a map, as was designing Washington, D.C., for example. It's all done haphazardly and this is how it ended up.

And once you've got Iowa and New Hampshire in place, in some sense they are proxies of their regions. In Midwest, you've got the sort of the -- New England, you've got South Carolina, the south. What Florida is doing however, I think is worse than unpopular. It's un-American. We cannot have this on Christmas. It's gotta be stopped.

(LAUGHTER)

And clearly it is a big state. If it went first it would swamp everything, would wipe out Iowa and New Hampshire as the ones of primary importance. I think it's got to go fifth. That's the only way to do it. And ultimately, I think, the blackmail of threatening first will be settled by offering them the Kondracke plan. Which I think is--

STIREWALT: The Kondrake plan gets broad acceptance.

BAIER: To be fair to Iowa and New Hampshire, the people who support them going first, they say they are small, enabling candidates to talk to voters, to interact with them in small settings, coffee tables and diners.

STIREWALT: And ethanol. And--

(LAUGHTER)

And it is important. But here's the thing, big states are gonna follow suit from Florida. Because even though Florida lost half of its delegate last year, they were still the 12th largest delegation at the Republican convention. They can still throw their weight around. So states like Ohio and other big Republican states are gonna say, "Yeah dock us, say whatever you want. We can still do what we want." And it's sort of like political brigandage. You can push your way to the front.

BAIER: We will follow the calendar for you. That's it for panel. Hard to believe it's almost here.

Stay tuned for cutting back on every level.

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