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The political wrangling over the presidential primary calendar is beginning to have unintended consequences -- starting with the Arab American Institute's annual convention.

Democratic presidential candidates have pledged not to campaign in states like Michigan and Florida, which are trying to hold their primaries earlier than the national party allows, in deference to the officially-sanctioned early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But guess where the Institute's convention is this year? Michigan, of course. There now appears to be little chance of getting the Democratic presidential candidates to appear at the group's meeting.

"This year threatens to take us back to a darker time," James Zogby, the president of the group, wrote in a letter to the early-state leaders. "To date, the presidential campaigns have pulled back after expressing initial interest, fearing that their participation might put them at odds with their pledge to the early states."

Zogby's letter pleads for an exemption for the candidates to visit Michigan.

"I am appealing to you to make it known to candidates that you will punish neither them nor us for appearing at our quadrennial national conference," Zogby wrote.

No official answer yet, Zogby said, but it doesn't look good.

--Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  September 13, 2007; 5:02 PM ET
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