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Wyoming Lassos In Fred Thompson

Wyoming, the nation's smallest state by population, will get a rare moment in the political spotlight on Saturday when top-tier Republican contender Fred Thompson drops in for a forum in Casper, the Associated Press notes.

Why Wyoming? Last month, the state Republican Party decided to move delegate-selection conventions -- their equivalent of a primary or caucus -- to Jan. 5, well ahead of any other state on the political calendar, including Iowa and New Hampshire. That's a violation of Republican National Committee rules, but unlike its Democratic counterpart, the RNC can only take away half the delegates of a state that breaks the rules. Since Wyoming doesn't get many delegates to start with, the penalty isn't overwhelming.

The state might also become a bit of a freebie for Thompson: He's the only top tier contender who will be visiting the state on Saturday and his persona seems in tune with the state's largely rural and agricultural voting base. It's unlikely that winning in Wyoming will pave the way to the nomination the way a victory in Iowa can, but delegates are delegates, and it looks like Thompson may be trying to lock them up.

Karen Hanretty, the campaign's deputy communications director, told CBS News that the Wyoming stop is part of a mountain state swing that includes a fund-raising stop in Colorado. "It's just a great opportunity to visit some solld grass-roots Republican activists in the state and explain to them why he's running," she said. "Fred introducing himself and his principles to the voters in Wyoming at this stage in the campaign is very beneficial."

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