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And, Mara, I think Florida messed with the primary calendar back in 2008. Are they at it again?
MARA LIASSON: If Florida moves up, those four will also move up their primary and caucus dates. And they'll keep moving them up in order to preserve their first in the nation status, even if it means holding their primary or caucus tomorrow.
GREENE: So we might start voting before Thanksgiving. Well, why - remind us why states take this status so seriously.
LIASSON: Well, the states that are jumping the gun think it matters because it's going to give their state more clout and influence over the nominee and force candidates to campaign more in their states, although they will lose half their delegates as a punishment. It also matters because candidates may have to alter their strategies somewhat. And, of course, to those of us who cover elections it matters because we might be spending our New Year's Eve or maybe Christmas Eve in Des Moines.
GREENE: Sounds lovely. I've been there, and it is lovely.
LIASSON: It's lovely, actually.
GREENE: It is indeed. I spent a New Year's Eve there. Well, punishment is important, because I think punishment became a big part of the Democratic primary fight in 2008.
LIASSON: Yes, it did, but they got their delegates back in the end.
GREENE: Well, let's go out to the campaign itself. The party doesn't know when it's going to start voting. They also don't seem any closer to rallying around any one candidate.
LIASSON: And when Perry got in he was smack in the spotlight. He had no time to be a bad candidate and get to be a better candidate. There was no time for out of town tryouts, which Mitt Romney has had for about five years.
GREENE: And briefly, can the field still grow? I mean, you say it's hard to get in late, but there's still talk of people like Sarah Palin, Chris Christie maybe getting in.
LIASSON: Yes. There is still talk, but I think it's getting very late. And I think Rick Perry shows why it's extremely hard to get in late.
GREENE: All right. Thanks, Mara.
LIASSON: Thank you.
GREENE: That is NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson.
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