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S.C. Governor endorses Romney

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will endorse Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney today.

Haley’s endorsement was coveted among Republican presidential hopefuls given her popularity among Tea Party supporters in South Carolina and around the country.

“The election next November will have ramifications for generations.  Neither South Carolina nor the nation can afford four more years of President Obama, and Mitt Romney is the right person to take him on and get America back on track,” Haley said in a release from the Romney campaign.

But while she still enjoys support among many grassroots groups, her statewide approval rating among all voters stands at 35 percent according to a recent poll from Winthrop University. Republicans gave her a 53 percent approval rating while 22 percent disapproved of her job in a poll conducted in late November/early December.

Haley rode a wave of Tea Party support to an unexpected 2010 primary victory over three establishment South Carolina Republicans: Attorney General Henry McMaster, former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and Lieutenant Gov. Andre Bauer (she defeated Barrett in a primary runoff election, 65 to 35 percent).

Romney endorsed the then-state representative’s campaign in March, three months before South Carolina’s June 8th primary and two months before Sarah Palin’s endorsement catapulted her candidacy to a national scale.

In 2008, Haley served on Romney’s South Carolina Women’s Leadership Team and was a co-chair of his “Women for Mitt Team.”

Haley leveraged her state’s first-in-the-South primary status into a bit of a kingmaker’s role, inviting all presidential candidates to stay at the Governor’s Mansion overnight. Romney's wife Ann stayed at the mansion in late September on a solo trip to the Palmetto State.  Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, as well as Michele Bachmann, also took her up on the offer.