Rep. Michele Bachmann canceled an appearance Friday in Rock Hill to remain in Washington for a series of votes on the budget. Instead, the Minnesota Republican was scheduled to hold a video conference with attendees at the Baxter Hood Center. The York County GOP sponsored the event.
Bachmann has appearances scheduled this weekend in Columbia and Spartanburg. She is one of a number of Republicans courting South Carolina.
In addition to Bachmann, the list of visitors includes former governors - Alaska's Sarah Palin, Massachusetts' Mitt Romney, Arkansas' Mike Huckabee, Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty and Utah's Jon Huntsman - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
The Republican presidential hopefuls are not rushing to the state the way they were in anticipation of the wide-open 2008 race, political observers said. Some have been visiting regularly since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Others are riding November's post-election and Tea Party-driven GOP tide in this first-in-the-South Republican primary battleground state.
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The primary date isn't set, but the first debate is May 5.
Bachmann said she has not visited the state since vacationing here when she lived in Virginia Beach, Va., when her husband attended graduate school at Regent University.
Now she's planning visits to Tea Party activists and GOP faithful as she decides whether to make a presidential bid. Her explorations also take her to Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, all early primaries.
Santorum's visit Monday and Tuesday will include talking with Republican women and visits to a private Christian school and an anti-abortion center.
Trying to figure when to get into the race in earnest can be tricky. The 2008 primary season started early, and some candidates ran out of cash.
"The money is a huge deal and in the last election cycle, there are some people who just spent their money way too early," said Winthrop University pollster and political scientist Scott Huffmon.
But that's a gamble too for those who dally.
"I think people are perhaps planning on a long-term strategy, but the reality is if you don't get some momentum early on, there's just not going to be a long-term for you," Huffmon said.
-- The Herald