Updated at 4:11 p.m.
The heads of the Republican Parties in South Carolina and Iowa are sending a stern message to Florida Republicans, calling for a new task force to select a new site for the 2012 Republican National Convention if Florida carries through on threats to hold its presidential primary early, in violation of RNC rules.
"If Florida refuses to move its primary date into compliance with RNC rules, I am respectfully requesting that the Committee convene a special task force to select a new site for the 2012 Convention outside the state of Florida," South Carolina GOP Chair Karen Floyd wrote in a letter sent to committee members Thursday morning.
The 2012 GOP convention is slated to take place in Tampa, Florida.
"Simply put, if Florida does not respect the process by which our primary calendar was set, the RNC should not be bound to the process by which the convention site was selected."
Meanwhile, Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn released a statement Thursday echoing Floyd's sentiment.
"The contempt that Florida legislators hold not only for the RNC 2012 rules, but also for the RNC members who approved these rules, is astonishing. To reward this arrogance with our national convention is a great disservice to the Republican activists, donors and elected officials nationwide who support the RNC," Strawn said.
"If Florida refuses to move its primary date into compliance with RNC rules, that consequence should be the re-opening of the process to select the site of the 2012 RNC Convention. I join South Carolina Chairwoman Floyd today in beginning preparations to request that the Committee convene a special task force to select a new site for the 2012 Convention outside the state of Florida," he continued.
New Hampshire GOP Chair Jack Kimball
reacted to Floyd's letter by urging Florida to follow the rules and said that that he was sure the prospect of moving the convention from Tampa would not come to pass.
"If Florida will simply follow the calendar, they'll be in a decisive position to pick the next Republican nominee," Kimball said. "The suggestions that the convention may be moved from Tampa, or that their delegates won't be counted - I'm sure none of that will come to pass. I am confident saner minds must and will prevail."
"The rules are very clear and there must be consequences to states that choose to blatantly break those rules. The Republican Party is no place for outlaws," said Nevada Republican National Committeeman Bob List
, a former governor. "The action of any state stepping out of order challenges the integrity and general success of the nomination process which was authorized and approved by members of the RNC."
The Iowa caucuses are currently, tentatively, slated for February 6, 2012. The South Carolina primary will be held in late February. Other states are allowed to hold nominating contests beginning the first Tuesday in March. But Florida legislators have scheduled their state's primary to the end of January.
Some Republicans in Florida have been steadfast in their desire to keep Florida's primary early in the process, even in the face of potential punishment from the RNC. In her letter to the RNC, Floyd cited reports that Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon
was unconcerned about threats not to seat Florida delegates, because the convention will be held in Tampa.
Cannon, for his part, taunted the Republican chairmen. "I look forward to meeting Chairman Floyd and Chairman Strawn in Tampa next summer," said Cannon, in response in to Floyd's letter.
Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos
(R), who is also a U.S. Senate candidate, said he was amazed that GOP leaders in other states feel threatened by Florida.
"I have said all along that Florida does not want to jump the traditional early states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina or Nevada. We simply want to go fifth," Haridopolos said. "As the ultimate swing state with a population reflective of the country's demographics, Florida should have a significant role as early in the nominating process as possible."
Florida's January primary follows a 2007 move by the state legislature to inch the primary forward on the nominating calendar to increase the state's influence. But unlike this year, in 2008 Florida held its primary after all four early nominating states held their own.
You can read the full text of Floyd's letter here
-- Beth Reinhard contributed to this post --