At the behest of delegates at the 2008 Republican National Convention, the RNC set up the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee, a panel empowered to change the party's nominating contest rules between conventions. The committee's goal, Steele said, "was to avoid encroaching upon each state's authority as much as possible, while at the same time balancing the needs of both promoting order within the process and allowing more states to be involved in the selection of the Republican presidential nominee."
Senior members of the RNC, including then-New Jersey committeeman David Norcross, spent years negotiating a workable deal with prominent members of the Democratic National Committee, most notably Rules and Bylaws Committee chairman James Roosevelt. The result of those negotiations passed both national committees last summer, moving early state contests back to February and imposing harsh sanctions on any state that violated the rules.
But the new arrangement would only have worked if the states cooperated. And they didn't; first Arizona, then Michigan moved their primaries up to late February, before the approved "window" during which they were allowed to hold contests. Through it all, Florida lurked as a likely spoiler. Elections officials in Iowa and New Hampshire both expected to be forced to move their contests up to early January; Floria's move proved them prescient.
Florida's move to the front "is unnecessary and unfortunate," Steele said. "The convention has nothing to do with any of this at this point. The RNC cannot move the convention. Florida knows it; and so, they will get to have their cake, eat it and basically tell the other 49 states and territories to go get their own."
"Overall, where we are now is where I remember telling folks we would likely end up anyway because when it is all said and done, the ability of the National Party to impact the behavior of states like Florida, South Carolina, New Hampshire ... is negligible at best."