MANCHESTER NH--Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman will boycott the Nevada caucuses if the state "continues to jeopardize" the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary status, his campaign threatened Thursday.
"The Huntsman campaign will boycott the Nevada caucus as long as the state continues to jeopardize New Hampshire's primary date," campaign manager Matt David said in a statement.
The Nevada caucus, which was recently scheduled for January 14, has thrown the primary calendar into confusion. The earlier date could push New Hampshire into early or mid-December, Secretary of State Bill Gardner said in a memo yesterday. New Hampshire state law requires the Granite State's primary to occur seven or more days before "any similar contest." Gardner confirmed yesterday he views Nevada's Republican caucus as such.
Huntsman's campaign has called on other campaign to join the boycott "especially Governor Romney's campaign, given their involvement in moving Nevada's date forward," David said. So far no other campaigns have voiced interest.
Last week, the Huntsman campaign accused the Romney campaign of pushing GOP official in Nevada to move up the date. On today's allegations, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams reaffirmed what he told NBC News last week.
"Governor Romney is firmly committed to preserving New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary," Williams said.
"Governor Romney is also competing in every other nominating contest across the country - whenever they are scheduled," he said. "Governor Romney has consistently supported Nevada's status as an early nominating contest that follows New Hampshire."
Huntsman, who is struggling in national polls, has centered his campaign's focus on New Hampshire. The headquarters is in the process of relocating from Orlando to New Hampshire.
"We need to do well here," Huntsman told reporters last week.
***UPDATE*** Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined the boycott movement Thursday, and pressured Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to do the same.
"As a candidate for president, I am committed to competing in and maintaining the first in the nation status of the New Hampshire primary. Therefore, I will not compete in a state which holds its contest inside of one week of New Hampshire," he said in a statement. "I trust Governors Romney and Perry will join me in protecting the New Hampshire primary and campaigning in New Hampshire towards a January 10th primary contest."