Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has endorsed Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley for governor.
Romney, who ran for president in 2008 and finished fourth in the S.C. Republican primary, heads a conservative PAC called Free and Strong America that supports candidates across the nation.
Romney said he's supporting Haley, and he will give her a maximum $3,500 donation.
"Ann and I got to know Nikki Haley during my campaign for president and came away enormously impressed with her as a person of character and as the spokesperson for a new generation of leadership for South Carolina," Romney said in a news release.
"She has a proven conservative record of fighting wasteful spending and advocating for smaller, more efficient government. I'm honored to call her my friend and prouder still to endorse her campaign for governor."
Haley is competing with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster, all of whom have also drawn national endorsements. Barrett has been endorsed by former presidential candidate Fred Thompson and Bauer by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, while McMaster was a key ally of former presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona.
Romney is expected to run again for president in 2012. Haley welcomed his endorsement.
"Governor Romney is a national leader and one of the most successful businessmen of his generation, and I'm honored to receive his support," Haley said. "He knows how to create jobs and turn the economy, and I look forward to leaning on him for support and advice as we do everything we can to put South Carolinians back to work."
- John O'Connor
Barrett opens state headquarters
U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-S.C., opened his gubernatorial campaign headquarters Tuesday in Columbia.
Barrett, who leads the GOP field in fundraising, is among four Republicans competing for the party's nomination for governor. He is competing against Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster.
- From staff reports