Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina's Republican Party is risking losing delegates by holding a January 2012 presidential primary but the strategic move will keep the state from losing its first-in-the-South presidential primary status to Florida.
"Truly we will remain the state that picks presidents. A 30-year track record, candidates know they got to come here, we anticipate remaining in that spot," said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly, speaking at party headquarters in Columbia Monday.
Connelly announced the date of next year's presidential primary, which was tentatively scheduled for February 28, will be held Saturday, January 21.
The move is designed to put space between South Carolina and Florida, which bucked national Republican Party rules last week and decided to hold their primary on Tuesday, January 31.
Republican National Committee rules specify that the only states permitted to hold contests before March 6 are the traditional early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Under RNC rules, states in violation of the calendar can be stripped of half their delegates to next August's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
Connelly said he doesn't believe South Carolina should be penalized as harshly as Florida.
"I really think a state who violates the calendar ought to lose all their delegates. Furthermore, the states that are pushed into January to keep their spot should not be penalized at all," said Connelly. "I understand South Carolina is facing penalties and we may lose as many as half of our delegates as well. It's just not right."
The RNC will not impose any penalties until December when the national party convenes its winter meeting.
The updated calendar is likely to push the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire
primary even earlier into January as they seek to protect their role as the two leadoff contests in the presidential nominating process.
Connelly also announced Monday the state party, in conjunction with Fox News, will host a presidential debate in the days leading up to South Carolina's Jan. 21 Republican primary.
–CNN's Peter Hamby and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
Wouldn't it be interesting to see one party host a debate for the other party?
Well SC if you are the state that picks President then thank you for picking President Obama. I trust you will pick him again.
I would like to see state legislatures be smart about this. I would like the traditional ones to go first and then the small states and the huge ones last. That should spread out the need for these states to feel the need to be first. They all have their role.
And will they vote for secession if they don't get their way?
One can only hope.
Geez ... this is like two kids fighting over an M&M in the dirt.
SC is the state that picks presidents, eh? Hard to believe that, since the IQ of your average SC voter barely has enough mental capacity to pick their noses or behinds.
"I understand South Carolina is facing penalties and we may lose as many as half of our delegates as well. It's just not right."
It isn't right. Mr. Connelly must be knew at being a real Republican, which is amazing considering he is from South Carolina where they seem to know all of the tricks. Here's the mantra.
"Rules are for the weak and fools."
I do not find these scheduling developements the least bit surprising. This is all about greed, self importance, and disregard for your neighbor. And, these people walk around with Bibles calling themselves morally superior.
One Fascist (Corporatist) state jumps ahead of other Fascist (Corporatist) states - who cares. This country is 55% centrist - not Fascist.
Why do these loser states feel that they must have an out of proportion effect on the election process? Name one good thing that has ever come out of South Carolina or Florida!
Oh God forbid the establishment doesn't get their way. Why not vote all at once instead of this useless beauty pageant? We're all a LOT sick of seeing your faces on TV every day of the week glamming it up. You people are more like a trainwreck with rubber neckers looking at the carnage instead of listening to what's coming out of your trash bins.