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Romney: Seat All Convention Delegates

Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shares a laugh with an unidentified Greenville Rotarian member during a campaign stop in Greenville, S.C. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007.
AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday he wants all delegates seated at next year's GOP National Convention, but he also wants Iowa and New Hampshire to lead off the nomination contests.

The remarks come after Republican leaders recommended this week that five states be stripped of half their delegates for breaking party rules by shifting primary contests before Feb. 5.

Romney did not say whether the states should be punished or if he would change his campaign strategy.

"I would like to see all the delegates seated, but I also want to protect the Iowa first, New Hampshire second process," the former Massachusetts governor said after speaking to about 100 people at a doughnut shop in this beach town.

South Carolina - along with New Hampshire, Florida, Michigan and Wyoming - may be punished for setting January dates for nomination contests.

South Carolina GOP leaders are considering legal action in an effort to keep its delegates.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan said this week it's important the party uphold its ban on contests before Feb. 5. New Hampshire has not yet set a primary date, although a state law requires the primary at least seven days before any other, which could mean voters go to the polls in December.

Romney also said he made a slip of the tongue Tuesday when he accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, instead of Osama bin Laden, of urging terrorists to congregate in Iraq.

Romney made similar remarks about bin Laden again Wednesday and was asked afterward if he got it right this time.

"I hope so, you never know," Romney said.