New Hampshire Sets Jan. 10 for Primary

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New Hampshire has scheduled the nation's first presidential primary for Jan. 10.

Wednesday's announcement by Secretary of State Bill Gardner gave candidates a concrete schedule after months of uncertainty.

The Jan. 10 date was widely expected, since Nevada Republicans voted last month to shift their presidential caucuses to early February.

Earlier, Gardner warned that Nevada's initial decision to hold its primary in mid-January could force New Hampshire to vote in early December.

"I was sort of on the edge of a cliff," Gardner said. "I was hoping if I had to move, there would be a puddle of water to jump into if necessary."

New Hampshire law requires the state's primary be held at least seven days ahead of any other similar contest. It also gives Gardner exclusive power to set the date for the election.

Critics argue that New Hampshire's population is too small and racially too white to play such a major role in picking presidents.

However, Gardner and other defenders of the Granite State say the country -- and the candidates -- are well-served because the primary requires close contact with voters, not just name-recognition or a war chest of cash for advertising purposes.

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