CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Several top Republicans tell The Associated Press the party has started preparing for a contested convention as the outcome of a primary season in which no GOP candidate for president wins enough delegates to secure the party's nomination.

Those leaders say the early preparations are a necessary contingency given the deeply divided Republican field. With less than three weeks to go before the leadoff Iowa caucuses of Feb. 1, there are still a dozen major Republican candidates in the race.

Republican National Committee member Steve Duprey says the committee will hold a private briefing outlining possible scenarios with party officials and the presidential campaigns on Thursday.

Discussion is expected to focus on logistics related to planning for the July convention, a task traditionally controlled by the presumptive nominee.