COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina may be home to the 'first in the South' primary, but don't expect the race for the GOP nomination to be wrapped up by the end of February.
The Republicans have adopted a new rule designed to extend their nominating process for the 2012 race.
The new rule limits the ability of candidates to win large numbers of delegates in primaries and caucuses held before April. Delegates must be awarded in proportion to the votes a candidate receives. States with winner-take-all rules will have to wait until April to hold their primaries.
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GOP leaders hope an extended nominating contest will energize party activists for the general election.
There is still some debate over the exact dates for the primaries. Earlier this month South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said the state won't settle for a same-day presidential primary with Arizona after Gov. Jan Brewer proclaimed a February 28 date for her state to gain a bigger national political role.
Connelly says South Carolina will make sure it is early enough to remain the first in the South.
Connelly can set whatever date he wants for South Carolina but will need to decide by the national party's calendar-setting deadline of Oct. 1.
Do you think drawing out the nomination process will help the GOP in finding their candidate for president? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)