Sneak Peek: Who's on First?


Tomorrow South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson travels to New Hampshire to announce the date of the South Carolina primary.

Yes you read that right – Dawson will be at the State House in Concord at 11:00 am ET to announce his primary date. This is essentially the first move on the political chess board that will affect the dates of the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses.

The Union Leader's John DiStaso reports this afternoon that South Carolina Republican Party officials have been telling presidential campaigns today that their primary will be Saturday, Jan. 19.

In order to preserve their status as "First in the Nation" and "First in the South," the South Carolina GOP and New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner have gotten together and formed an alliance not unlike one on "Survivor."

It looks like the Iowa Democrats and Republicans will hold off on any announcement until New Hampshire sets its date.

And it looks like the New Hampshire primary will be somewhere between January 8 and January 12, so that leaves Iowa with three options:

Make the unprecedented move to a December caucus date -- not likely the most desirable option for either party. Select Monday Jan. 7, which doesn't leave much time after the holidays to pump up participation. Give up first-in-the-nation status and go second on Jan. 14 -- something Gov. Culver seemed to rule out today.

Gov. Culver told Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson, "Iowa will go first. That is the bottom line."

New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen tells ABC News that the coordination between the states shows respect for the traditional roles New Hampshire and South Carolina have played in the early primary season and provides an opportunity to keep the early states' primary dates in 2008 and avoid things being flipped back to 2007. (Signaling that option #1 is the least likely of the three?)

But hold off on booking that hotel room in New Hampshire. Secretary Gardner is not expected to make any announcements tomorrow about the date of his state's primary. "Punxsutawney Bill" will emerge sometime in the fall, look for his shadow and determine how long or short the time between New Hampshire and South Carolina will be.

On the Left Coast…

The '08 Democratic presidential field -- minus the always spicy Joe Biden -- participate in a two hour forum in Los Angeles sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization committed to equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The event will be televised at 9:00 pm ET on the gay television network Logo and the Logo website. The candidates will not appear on stage together at the same time.

As for other Thursday events, Hillary Clinton attends the National Association of Black Journalists Presidential Forum at 2:00 pm ET at Bally's Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. (Barack Obama speaks to NABJ on Friday) After that, she makes her way to a 4:00 pm ET culinary workers rally at Culinary Local 226 in Vegas followed by an organizing house meeting. Her husband Bill Clinton participates in the celebration of the Rocky Mountain Institute's 25th Anniversary.

NPR's Michel Martin hosts a session at the NABJ convention that will look at whether Obama is "black enough?"

Obama raises coin in Los Angeles, stopping at a West Hollywood club and restaurant. His wife, Michelle, hosts a meet and greet in Reno, Nev.

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