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Nevada decision ends GOP primary scramble

Nevada Republicans have shifted their presidential caucuses to early February, a move that ends an increasingly bitter standoff among rival states and for the first time clarifies the path to the Republican presidential nomination.

There will be no voting before Christmas. That's despite warnings from New Hampshire's top election official that Nevada's initial insistence to host its contest in mid-January could force the Granite State to schedule the nation's first Republican primary election in roughly six weeks.

But facing boycott threats from campaigns, incentive offers from the Republican National Committee, and the private blessing of the Mitt Romney campaign, Nevada Republicans voted Saturday to set their caucuses for Feb. 4. It will be the West's first stop in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the fifth contest overall, after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

The calendar scramble had consumed Republican officials in early voting states and complicated candidates' decisions about travel, the timing of television ads and the distribution of resources. But with New Hampshire now free to settle on its preferred date of Jan. 10, the final puzzle pieces appear to have fallen into place.

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