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November 22, 2014

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NH SOS Gardner: “I’m just asking Nevada for 72 hours”

In an interview Wednesday evening, legendary NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner told me that Nevada "could benefit" from moving its GOP caucus from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17, having even more clout -- an argument Nevada Republicans apparently are not buying.

"I'm just asking Nevada for 72 hours," Gardner said by phone from New Hampshire, hours after he had declared Nevada should move back to accomodate New Hampshire in this post

But, I told him, Nevada Republicans want to caucus on a Saturday because it is a multifaceted, time-consuming affair -- not simply like voting in a primary.

"There is a Saturday available," he said.

When?

"After South Carolina," he said, referring to the fourth-in-nation event now slated for Jan. 21.

Chances of Nevada giving up third to go fourth: Zero.

I suggested to Gardner that to fulfill the New Hampshire seven-day rule, he could schedule his primary on the 7th.

No good, he said.

Why?

It's Christmas on the Julian calendar. Really. He has been visited by priests.

He also said he only today talked to an Orthodox Jewish state lawmakers who urged him not to schedule the New Hampshire primary on a Saturday. It has always been on a Tuesday, but Gardner previously told me he would consider another day.

"You are bluffing," I told him. "You will not go into December."

Silence for a few moments, followed by: "I'm just asking Nevada to move 72 hours."

I asked Gardner if he is a poker player. He insisted he had never played the game. I say: He's a natural.

"I need to honor the tradition (of first-in-the-nation)," he said, echoing what he has told countless reporters over his 35 years in office.

Really?

"All I'm asking is 72 hours," he repeated, more on message than some pols I know.

Has he talked to anyone in Nevada today about this move?

"Only you," he chuckled.

How fast does he have to move?

"There is no deadline for me," he replied.

And then: "All I'm asking is for 72 hours."

What we don't have here is a failure to communicate.

(In case you missed it, here's what Gov. Brian Sandoval said earlier in a statement: "We certainly respect Secretary Gardner's position, but we have a similar responsibility to protect our state's rights. A caucus is not the same as a primary election. Nevada has chosen January 14 and New Hampshire could easily choose January 10 for its primary and still preserve the intent of its seven-day rule as it applies to primary elections. This issue is really about Florida, not Nevada. Perhaps the Secretary should be asking Florida to change its position." )

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