CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Politicos from both major parties say the rush to move up presidential primary dates won't detract from South Carolina's status as a key momentum-building state.
Almost half the states have primaries scheduled for Feb. 5, and Florida moved its primary to Jan. 29. That coincides with the S.C. Democratic primary date and is four days earlier than the planned Feb. 2 Republican contest.
For now, S.C. GOP leaders have said they're determined to move their primary even earlier to maintain its prominence.
"We haven't set our date yet, but we will be the first in the South," said Glenn McCall, chairman of the York County Republican Party.
McCall said he expects the major GOP candidates to visit York County between August and December. Cherie Mabrey, second vice chairwoman of the York County Democrats, said the group is expecting heavy hitters such as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in the next few months.
"We continue to get the same amount of attention," she said.
Democratic contender Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, spent Friday and Saturday in South Carolina campaigning, from Columbia to Rock Hill, to Spartanburg, to Greenville, to Anderson. He said he's not changing his strategy to accommodate Florida's switch.
"Get these (other) candidates in here and make them grovel to you as I have," he said to laughs in Rock Hill.