IRMO, South Carolina -- Five board members of the Palmetto Family Council, a leading South Carolina group of social conservatives, plan to endorse Rick Santorum after a series of meetings looking to coalesce around a candidate, one of the leaders told The Hill Wednesday evening.

"Several of the board members have talked and there’s four or five of us that have agreed to put out an endorsement of Rick Santorum, we’ve let the campaign know and they’re going to do the release," said Hal Stevenson, one of the board members. "He has been trustworthy over many years, we know who he is and what he stands for and he’ll apply the same level of integrity to fiscal and foreign policy issues that he’s applied to the family issues."

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Stevenson said that he and four of the other board members will back Santorum and that the campaign would release an announcement of their backing Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Santorum has built his campaign on support from social conservatives — endorsements from religious right leaders helped carry him to a close second place finish in Iowa, and a large coalition of national conservative leaders met in Texas last weekend to endorse him. But he has struggled to unite evangelical Christians, who make up roughly 60 percent of GOP primary voters in South Carolina — Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry also are drawing backers from that voting bloc, and he is in third place in recent polls in the state.

Stevenson said he preferred Santorum to Mitt Romney, but would happily support Romney in the general election if he's the eventual nominee. He suggested he thought that was the likely outcome of the primary. 

"Romney may have grown, many people do, into the issues on the social side… but he has not been consistent over the years in that way like Santorum has been," he said. "I say that not to tear him down. A lot of us realize he may be the nominee, if he is the nominee I’ll be fully supportive of him."

South Carolina goes to the polls on Saturday, and most expect if Romney maintains his lead in the state the primary is all but over.