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Meeting with Mel

Campaigning to push Florida's presidential primary up so that it counts for something, incoming Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio met today with incoming Republican National Committee chairman Mel Martinez - who could have a say in the timing of the primary.

Under Rubio's proposal, Florida's primary would be moved up so that it falls right after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests - giving the state a key role in picking presidential nominees for both parties. Rubio detailed the plan Thursday morning at a post-election meeting of GOPAC, the Newt Gingrich-led organization dedicated to electing state and local GOP leaders.

One drawback of moving the date - the national parties could punish the state by refusing to sit its delegates at the conventions. But Rubio said he believes the move would benefit both parties by forcing prospective candidates to campaign in diversity-rich Florida, where they'd have to answer questions ranging from U.S. policy toward Israel and Cuba to agriculture and poverty.

"You want your candidates to be battle-tested,'' Rubio said. "It's difficult to win the presidency without winning the state of Florida so it behooves both parties to have candidates that are palatable for Florida."

The proposal is likely to be debated this spring in Tallahassee.

Martinez, who met briefly with Rubio at the Capitol, said he hadn't yet had time to review the proposal.

"It's probably good for Florida, but I don't know yet as party chair," he said.

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