Florida Republicans Signal Willingness to Reschedule Primary

Under increasing pressure to move the state's presidential primary date, Florida Republicans have indicated they are willing to reschedule it for after South Carolina's contest. Florida Republican party chairman Dave Bitner issued a statement Thursday evening saying they were agreeable to moving the primary "into late February, making Florida fifth on the calendar."

"There are many reasons why Florida should have an early and significant role in selecting the Republican presidential nominee, yet I understand the Republican National Committee is looking to maintain an orderly primary calendar," Bitner said in the statement. "Governor Scott, President Haridopolos, Speaker Cannon and I have expressed a willingness to work with the RNC to find a primary date that both respects the calendar while preserving Florida's role in the process."

Early Thursday, the South Carolina Republican Party called on the Republican National Committee to severely punish the Republican Party of Florida for its refusal to postpone its scheduled Jan. 31 presidential to a date in compliance with the national party's approved calendar -- after the February contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. SC GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd authored a letter to the RNC suggesting sanctions against the Sunshine State, including the possibility of choosing a new convention site. Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn chimed in with his support of Floyd's position.

Florida concession Thursday evening, however, will not immediately solve the impasse, as the RNC voted to require all states to have their contests no earlier than March 1 in hopes of avoiding a frontloaded calendar, which is what took place in 2008.

Aides to Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos tell Fox News that the statement is merely reflective of public bargaining between the Florida Republican Party and the RNC. "No deal has been struck."

Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to the report.