South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly promised Thursday to do whatever was necessary to make sure his state continued to have the first primary in the South.
In a vote Friday, a Florida state commission is expected to move their primary to January 31, 2011, which would be earlier than South Carolina's normal February primary.
"Our spot is sacred to us," Connelly said at a press conference. "We should stick to and keep intact the RNC's approved calendar. As a lifelong Republican and a dad of four who constantly tells my kids that words matter and principles count, I'm proud to be part of a party that says we are the party of the rule of law. But if we thumb our noses at our very own rules, what does it make us look like?"
"While protecting our first in the South primary spot is the most important thing, I'm not going to announce a date that willingly accepts rogue states forcing us to break the rules. Therefore today, I want to announce that the ball is in Florida's court. If you guys in Florida want to be the bad guys and compress this calendar and lose out for all the voters in America and have a calendar that's chaotic and compressed even if it's against your own state GOP then go for it. We'll respectfully wait until Florida makes an official commitment and a decision, and South Carolina will then move to be the first in the South presidential preference primary."
Connelly added: "You'd think that the Florida Legislature, instead of trying to move their weight around and play bully on the block, that they would actually say, 'Hey, we've had two debates, the whole world's been watching. Nobody is going to ignore the state of Florida. We've got the convention. Let's let this calendar stay intact.'"
"Look, we're going to stay first in the South. That's the most important thing to the people of South Carolina. We're going to be the first in the South. Sure, I have to accept the penalties if [the RNC] imposes them on me. But it doesn't mean that I can't pitch a fit there and let them know that this isn't right."
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Sept. 28, 2011.