Interview: Edwards Says He'll Campaign in Early-Vote States that Break DNC Rules

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Wednesday he won't let his party's efforts to control the primary calendar dictate where he campaigns.

"I'm running a national campaign, so I'm going to campaign in the states that are participating in the process," Edwards told The Associated Press in an interview. "My job is not to make the rules, my job is to run."

Edwards' comment came hours after the Michigan Senate approved a measure that would move the state's nominating contest to Jan. 15. If that move wins final approval in the state - far from sure - Michigan would leapfrog the Jan. 19 contests in Nevada and South Carolina and further compress a primary schedule national party leaders are struggling to control.

The Democratic National Committee has threatened to dock delegates from the states that jump ahead of its first four states - Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Any candidate who campaigns in a state that breaks the rules is threatened with losing delegates from that state at the national convention.

In Denver on Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said the rules committee will meet Saturday to decide what to do about states that are leapfrogging their primaries and caucuses.

He said that "there are some pretty strong sanctions in the rules of the DNC that were agreed to by every single state last year, and I expect the rules committee will probably enforce the rules."

Edwards' comments Wednesday may not win him friends in Nevada. Democrats here saw their political stock rise when the DNC awarded them the second-in-the-nation caucus, but they have since seen it fall as other states have moved their dates forward.

The former vice presidential candidate was campaigning at a solar energy site in Las Vegas, in part, to quiet rumors about him giving up on the state. Last week, his campaign acknowledged it was moving some staff members out of Nevada and into other early voting states.

"I believe that the most important component to a campaign in any state, including this state, is the candidate being here and campaigning vigorously," he told the AP on Wednesday. "I intend to be here running a tough competitive campaign."

The former North Carolina senator has spent more time in Nevada than his top rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.