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Richardson, Biden and Dodd: Good bye Florida, but we'll see you at the debate

Dem prez contenders Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have signed a pledge to not campaign in early primary states like Florida - but the pledge at least won't put the kibosh on the upcoming Univision debate at the University of Miami

That's because the Sept. 9 debate is within the 30 days the national Democratic party gave Florida officials to figure out whether they want to be spanked for moving up the presidential primary.

The pledge was written by Democratic officials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and is aimed at convincing candidates to stick to the Democratic National Committee's sanctioned primary and caucus schedule. Of course, the candidates will still be able to accept campaign contributions from Florida.

The Richardson campaign says its designed to prevent "chaos in the nominating process."

"This process is completely out of control and only an agreement by the candidates can restore sanity," the New Mexico governor said. "I hope no candidate tries to manipulate this situation for his or her own purposes."

Said Biden's campaign manager, Luis Navarro, a former Florida Democratic Party official, "We intend not only to sign the pledge, but to honor our pledge to Iowa, Nevada, New Hamsphire and South Carolina to respect their primacy in the process," said Navarro. "They played by the rules of the DNC. We respect those rules."

The public despises this kind of maneuvering for political advantage. If the Republicans want to play this way, let them. But we will not be a party to it."

According to the DNC rules, campaigning includes - though isn't limited to: "purchasing print, internet or electronic advertising....hiring campaign workers, opening an office, making public appearances, holding news conferences, coordinating volunteer activities, sending mail, other than fundraising requests that are also sent to potential donors in other states, using paid or volunteer phoners or automated calls to contact voters, sending emails or establishing a website specific to that state...attending events sponsored by state or local Democratic organizations...."

Whew. Pretty much covers it all. Except for accepting money.

Carrie Giddens, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said the pledge is aimed at "showing respect for the calendar" and bringing "finality and predictability to the nominating calendar."

Florida can avoid the penalties by changing the official date of the primary - now sked for Jan. 29. Instead, national party officials say, Florida could move up its delegate selection to a party caucus held on Feb. 5