November 20th, 2009
11:34 AM ET
10 years ago

Former GOP camps weigh in on 2012 primary calendar

Discussion has begun on the 2012 primary calendar.

Discussion has begun on the 2012 primary calendar.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Representatives from some of the top 2008 GOP presidential campaigns gathered in Washington, D.C. Thursday to urge the Republican National Committee to lock in a 2012 primary calendar as early as possible to avoid the confusion that dogged the early stages of last year's nomination contest. One campaign manager took his recommendations a step further and suggested ending the traditional first-in-the-nation statuses of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

An RNC panel headed by party chairman Michael Steele invited the campaigns to share their views as it considers numerous possible changes to the process the party will use to nominate a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

Mike DuHaime, the 2008 campaign manager for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told the panel that the three early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should continue to hold contests early in the process, but not necessarily as the first three contests.

"I believe there needs to be greater decision-making authority given to states beyond the early states," said DuHaime, referring to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. "If you win two out of three states, those have been our nominees. With that, 47 other states don't have the same say."

"I think that is ultimately not in the best interests of the party," he added.

DuHaime went on to say that the early phase of the nomination calendar should be more geographically and ethnically diverse and that doing so could make the party more competitive in general elections.
DuHaime's candidate did not campaign heavily in the early states and instead focused his time and energy on later contests.

Former Huckabee presidential campaign manager Chip Saltsman, whose candidate won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, defended the role of the traditional early states.

"I think it's very important and crucial to have Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina early on in the process," he said.

Saltsman said that he has seen during his experiences in Iowa from previous campaigns "just how seriously folks in those states take the process. Not that the other 47 states don't. It's an opportunity for any candidate, no matter how rich, no matter how poor, no matter how new, and no matter who's been running for eight years."

"This is making our candidates better candidates," Saltsman added.

The campaigns all agreed that regardless of what the calendar eventually looks like, it will be important to lock in the schedule early so that candidates can plan and strategize accordingly. In 2008, both the Republican and Democratic primary calendars were thrown into disarray when Michigan and Florida moved their contests earlier in the process to challenge the early positioning of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

"This is something that I don't know if there's a perfect solution, but there needs to be a solution," said Saltsman. "Set the rules. Set them fair. Let [the presidential campaigns] know what they are. And set them in a way that don't change."

Beth Myers, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's 2008 campaign manager, echoed a similar sentiment.

"I am of the belief that a campaign can plan for any calendar, but that certainty is what matters," she said in a written statement submitted to the panel. "In other words, my primary recommendation would be that the calendar is set as early as possible so that it is known by all campaigns."

Myers did not address the politically sensitive issue of whether Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should remain as the first contests, but she did suggest a later start for the primary season, which began on January 3 in 2008, the earliest start of any presidential primary season in history.

"The one complaint we heard more than any other was that it started too close to the holidays," she said. "I would urge you to mandate a start in late February or early March."

Saltzman suggested late January as a starting point.

The RNC invited all the 2008 GOP presidential campaigns to provide feedback for Thursday's forum. The Huckabee, Giuliani and Duncan Hunter campaigns sent representatives to testify in person. The Romney, Ron Paul and Fred Thompson campaigns submitted written statements. The remainder of the 2008 GOP field, including the campaign of Sen. John McCain, did not respond to the invitation.

The RNC is expected to finalize its rules governing the nomination process at its summer meeting next year.


Filed under: 2012 • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    thanks for the laugh

    ALL 3 are unacceptable -- NEXT !!!

    November 20, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Susan

    All of them losers - ZERO credibility and NO answers!

    November 20, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. ran

    What is needed is a national primary for both parties.

    November 20, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Silence Dogoode

    Get your act together RNC. get us a candidate we can vote for

    November 20, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  5. David

    Well folks, Dems are still cleaning up after the republicans mess. Everyone thinks the mess can be clean up in a day. Nonetheless, it will take time and patience because the Dems are cleaning up the Republican's mess who got this country into a mess and probably will take 8 more years to clean up up after the Republicans mess who were a firm believers in deregulations in which got us into this mess.

    November 20, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  6. Butch

    Go Romney....Huckabee is a fanatical loon and Guliani can't win Florida. And Palin...keep her on a book tour; she's a nut.

    November 20, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. Bubble of Sanity

    So it's Colonel Klink, Mr. Rogers, or Ted Kennedy lite who will be the Republican nominee. Congratulations, Mr. Obama. Just like Clinton, they are giving you a free second term.

    November 20, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  8. VernisRobertson

    Instead of the GOP planning on 2012 , they need to ask the Good Lord if they will be around. People like this take life for granted. Do they all know that God is in control .

    November 20, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Wearetoblame

    Who's to blame? The american people. We put these people in office. We also let them do whatever they wanted, blindly letting them do their thing. We have no one to blame except ourselves, but we are so foolish that we don't see.

    November 20, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. cjr

    This recession is and always will be a republican recession i.e. GWB and friends who along with coming close to destroying the constituiton, promoted torture, came close to taking the banking system to a world crises. It will take years, perhaps decades to repair the damage this guy and his party have done. I will never vote for any republican ever again.

    November 20, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Bedtime for Obonzo

    The primary system needs to be revamped. Perhaps something along the lines of series of monthly regional primaries and caucuses. It's crazy for a handful of early states to cause the majority of candidates to drop out, effectively deciding the matter.

    November 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. Sgt. USMC

    DuHaime went on to say that the early phase of the nomination calendar should be more geographically and ethnically diverse and that doing so could make the party more competitive in general elections.

    Translation: "Let's fool the American people into thinking we are diverse and that we care about everyone."

    November 20, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Bill NY

    If people think things are bad now, just wait until one of these clowns(my apologies to clowns everywhere) gets in.

    November 20, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. victim of republican greed

    In the primaries, Sarah and her running mate Glenn Beck, will beat her sock puppets, Mr. Mittens and Little Timmy.

    November 20, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. PJ

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Tell me that Palin is not going to run!

    November 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Mark

    Romney/Palin 2012

    November 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. hamaca

    Agree with the idea that other states be allowed to take their turn to be the initial focus. I don't like that those three states have a disproportionate say in who the candidates of either party should be. I think the main factor keeping it that way is the fear prospective candidates have of opposing the status quo and thus "offending" the voters in those three states in case the powers that be don't have the courage to make the change. Rather selfish of those states for continuing to campaign for the priviledge.

    November 20, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Mitt, Mike and Rudy all suck. There is no viable rerpublican out there.

    November 20, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. FALSE NEWS...not really the news .. just propaganda from hate mongers to the no brainers

    G"NO"P can start the nomination process with South Carolina so Gov. Mark Sanford the "family values" guy gets the nomination!!!!

    November 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. conservativeTEXAN

    come on, do we have any other contenders...someone to get the party going again....oh yes palin

    November 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    The probllem isn't the presidential process; it is the message that is flawed. As long as the extreme right controls the GOP, expect problems attacting moderates and independents regardless of party in the general election.

    November 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    The selection of a good candidate, is likely going to require new blood. Failure to do that, may doom the party to failure.

    November 20, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. not in the best interests of the party

    Want to know what is not in the best interests of the GOP?

    probably not, but you need to, and I hope you don't listen because I love that you are going down in flames

    do not listen to Ann Coultour, Rush, Hannity, O'Rielly: these nut cases are the reason you are in the trouble you are in; Obama is doing well but he would not be if you would show a little bit of common sense instead of listening to these knee jerk monday morning quarterbacking air heads

    As much as I love a Palin story over coffee as much as any other red blooded American, you need to make her stop; she is good for the democrats, poison for the GOPers

    Finally, come up with another answer/proposal besides 'no'

    November 20, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. Mariann Pepitone

    Mitt, Mike and Rudy are not the best qualified to become president of this country although I would vote for Rudy first not Mitt or Mike. It appears that the republicans are in an uphill battle because it is going to be rough sledding to beat Obama who will be running for a second term. If Palin runs against him then I believe Obama will have an uphill battle because she is getting more popular with the public as the days go by and her policies are for the American people. Her views on abortion, economy and war are better then Obama's. She may not win but she would give him a good battle. I believe she should run.

    November 20, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. GJ

    I am by no means a Republican but someone has to upset the unbelieveable political power those four small states have and if they're the ones to do it, good for them.

    November 20, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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