Possible GOP presidential hopefuls in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Several possible Republican presidential contenders for 2012 are in South Carolina to rally voter support leading up to the nation's first-in-the-South presidential primary.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are visiting Thursday. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is set to be in the state Saturday.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley is appearing only with Romney. They campaigned together at the Fire Water Grill in Summerville and another stop in Bamberg.

The campaign of Haley's Democratic challenger, Vincent Sheheen, issued a tongue-in-cheek welcome to Romney. "Nikki Haley has spent months misleading the voters on Vincent Sheheen's position on mandated health care, but brings in the father of mandated health care to campaign with her," said Sheheen spokeswoman Kristin Cobb. "She claims to be against health care mandates, but I guess $60,000 will make her ignore the facts."

Romney endorsed Haley in April as she badly trailed her three primary rivals. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed her a month later. Santorum had events in Greenville, while Gingrich was set to be in Greenville Thursday.

Sheheen traveled through Florence and Myrtle Beach on Thursday to speak with voters.

According to his official web site, Green Party candidate Morgan Reeves doesn't have any stops planned for this week. Reeves was not invited to any of the debates with Haley and Sheheen.

Voters will head to polls to pick their next governor on Tuesday.

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Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. WCSC and AP contributed to this report.