Despite the fact that both parties’ rules prohibit primaries before February 5:

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said the state would lose 50 percent of its delegates and all its superdelegates _ typically members of Congress. Any candidate who campaigns in Florida for a primary earlier than Feb. 5 will be ineligible for receiving any of the state’s delegates, Paxton said.

She added that the DNC hoped to work out a separate plan with the state party, such as a caucus…

The Republican National Committee has warned it will strip 50 percent of Florida’s delegates if the state’s primary is moved.

Whoever wins Florida on January 29 will be surfing momentum into Mega Tuesday a week later so I guess they’re willing to give up their delegates at the convention for the right to play kingmaker. In fact, they might not have to: MSNBC thinks the DNC is blowing smoke about penalties here and that they’ll end up making a deal in which they’ll endorse the Florida primary on the condition that South Carolina — which until now was supposed to be the only primary held on January 29 — gets to move up a week also, to the 22nd, to retain its pride of place.

The big loser is Mitt, who’s leading in Iowa just as that state’s losing its relevance to the nomination. MSNBC thinks there’s a chance that Michigan might move up to January 29th too, though, which would rescue Romney given the fact that he’s leading there on the strength of his family pedigree. If that happens then January 29th might not decide things but it will make it a two-man race on Mega Tuesday: Mitt, the Michigan winner, versus the Florida winner. Winner takes nomination.

This also means Fred has one less week to get into the race, of course.

Exit question one: Who does this most help? Lots of transplanted New Yorkers in Florida, of course, and the state’s famously purplish, so it’s good news for the centrist candidates, Rudy and Hillary. Edwards’s and Thompson’s southern roots can’t hurt either. It would seem to be a wash for Romney, McCain, and Obama, although between Iraq and amnesty, McCain might be out of the race by January anyway. Exit question two: There’s probably an easy answer to this that I’m missing, but why don’t the other big states join in this prisoner’s dilemma and move their primaries to the 29th now too?

Update: He’s desperate.

“Maybe I should wait a couple weeks and see if [Romney’s position] changes, since it’s changed in less than a year.”

“Maybe his solution would be to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn or something.”

Update: Having been served up a fat pitch by St. John, Mitt swings away.

“Governor Romney has been very clear that he opposes this immigration agreement, which clearly falls short of the American public’s expectations. It seems that certain candidates who brokered this flawed plan are having a very difficult time grappling with or coming to terms with the political fallout that has ensued in a substantive manner.”