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Former Gov. Bob List says later Nevada GOP caucus date will help, not hurt, Nevada

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Former Nevada Republican Gov. Bob List said today that he believes the state will have a critical role to play in the selection of the party’s nominee for president despite seeing the caucus date pushed back to Feb. 4.

“No, I think that being fifth actually has turned out to be better than being third,” said List, who is a Nevada State Republican Party national committeeman. “This race is certainly not going to be decided by the time Florida has its primary.

Former Nevada Gov. Bob List.

“We’re going to have the Iowa caucuses, which are non-binding on the delegates, then you’ve got New Hampshire, then Florida, then South Carolina,” he said in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program. “It’s not going to be over by then. Then comes Nevada. We’re going to be the first in the West and we’re going to get a lot of activity out here and the eyes of the nation are going to be on the Silver State.”

“I think the race will become more critical by that time,” List said. “I don’t think it hurt us one bit to slip back.”

Nevada was embroiled in a controversy earlier this year over when to hold its caucus because of Florida’s decision to move up its primary date. Nevada Republican Party officials ultimately agreed to the Feb. 4 date for the “First in the West” GOP caucus. The caucus had previously been set for Jan. 14.

List said Nevada played by the rules in setting its caucus date, which will benefit the state in future years. Florida will be penalized for setting its GOP primary so early, he said.

List said the Republican debates are generating a lot more attention than in past years, and the ultimate candidate will be “widely known and well tested.”

List also criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s offer to bet Texas Gov. Rick Perry $10,0000 over Romney’s position on the individual health care mandate. The exchange came in an Iowa debate on Saturday and Romney has been criticized for being out of touch with average Americans for proposing to make such a large bet.

“I didn’t think that was well thought through,” List said. “I think it was a bad mistake.”

Even so, List praised Romney as the potential Republican presidential nominee.

List said Romney is a good manager, has high ethical standards and is respected for his integrity.

There has been some concerned expressed by Southern Evangelicals over Romney’s religion, but List said Nevadans know that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are good Christians, and “it’s nothing to be feared.”

Romney won the Nevada caucus in 2008.

List also praised Newt Gingrich for his command in the debates, which has pushed him into front-runner status.

“He is so smart, and he has such a sense of history, and he really has an enormously good grasp of the issues,” List said.

Both Romney and Gingrich could beat President Obama, he said.

Audio clips:

Former Nevada Gov. Bob List says Nevada’s later GOP caucus date will help the state:

121211List1 :29 the Silver State.”

List says the GOP presidential primary will be more critical by Feb. 4:

121211List2 :08 to slip back.”

List says Mitt Romney made a mistake in offering to bet Rick Perry $10,000:

121211List3 :13 a bad mistake.”

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