Derry, N.H. – Earlier today, in a packed high-school auditorium here, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina introduced Mitt Romney. She was warmly received by locals, but her remarks were more than an appeal to state Republicans. Her presence signaled to the crowd, and to the scores of reporters in the back, that Romney intends to compete in South Carolina, which will hold its primary later this month.
To generate momentum in the Palmetto State, “We don’t just need a win in New Hampshire, we need a landslide in New Hampshire,” Haley said. “All eyes are on New Hampshire… Mitt Romney is going to win South Carolina… But let’s make it a little bit easier for him.”
Recent polling in South Carolina shows Romney galloping ahead, but his support there is soft. In New Hampshire, Romney leads Rick Santorum and Ron Paul by double digits. In Rasmussen’s latest South Carolina poll, he leads Santorum by three points, and Newt Gingrich by nine points.
Romney echoed Haley’s caution in his speech, telling supporters to not “get too confident with those poll numbers,” especially after that “landslide in Iowa.” “I’ve watched polls come and go,” he said. “Things change very quickly.” But by bringing Haley to this hamlet in southern New Hampshire, on a bitterly cold morning, he flashed his connection to South Carolina’s tea-party favorite, and to a governor who’ll be an asset in the next round.