Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will attend a Labor Day forum hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a kingmaker in the early-voting state.
“We’re pleased we were able to arrange our schedule so that Governor Romney can attend Labor Day events in both New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
South Carolina is a crucial state in the GOP primary process and, according to a new poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) holds a strong lead in the state, 36 percent to Romney’s 16 percent.
Perry has been campaigning hard in South Carolina and will attend the DeMint forum, as will Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannNo-shows at GOP convention Clinton camp: Trump VP pick is 'divisive,' 'unpopular' Lobbying world MORE (R-Minn.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and GOP businessman Herman Cain.
Last week, the campaign said Romney would be unable to attend DeMint’s event, which is seen as a major showcase for presidential candidates and leading to a possible endorsement by the influential conservative senator.
There has also been some criticism from Republicans in the state that Romney isn’t campaigning enough there, claims that the former governor’s campaign has denied.
Romney’s decision to participate in the forum, and in the Tea Party event, shows a strategy shift, sources close to his campaign say. Instead of picking and choosing events and staying above the fray, the former governor will run a more confrontational campaign, where he will meet Perry toe-to-toe.
— This post was updated at 6:04 p.m.