CEDAR RAPIDS - The Republican National Committee has approved a rules change that preserves Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

"The new rules recognize Iowa's unique and traditional first-in-the-nation status," said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn. He attended the RNC meeting in Kansas City, Mo., along with Iowa's other two members of the RNC, Kim Lehman and Steve Scheffler.

The rules were adopted 103-41. Two thirds, or 96 votes, were needed to adopt the change.

Under the rules for 2012, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada may hold their delegate preference events in February.

Any remaining state that holds their primary or caucus in March must allocate their delegates proportionally.

The new rules offer an incen tive for states to wait until April, so they can award delegates in a winner-take-all system.

"Presidential candidates have long asked for some stability in the nominating process, and the rule enacted today provides that stability," Strawn said. "Also, this allows Iowa to hold its caucuses in February, instead of right after the holidays. That makes it easier for candidates, their volunteers and voters."

Strawn noted the new rule is designed to avoid the push for a so-called national primary day and encourages candidates to travel to more states during the presidential primary process.

The Democratic National Committee is working on a similar plan, to be finalized at their meeting later this month.

Former Iowa GOP Chairman Brian Kennedy of Bettendorf was a member of the temporary RNC committee charged with drafting the recently adopted rules.

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