Romney to return to York County this week

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney rejoins the parade of candidates passing through York County with an appearance this weekend in Tega Cay.

Romney will host an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall-style meeting on Saturday, marking his third visit since the campaign began.

This week, Romney is stepping up his efforts to cast himself as a Washington outsider and the GOP's best candidate for change. It's a way to capitalize on what polls show as widespread disenchantment with President Bush and the Democratic-led Congress.

In an open letter sent Monday to fellow Republicans, the former Massachusetts governor says blame for the nation's problems "does not belong to just one party."

"It's time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans," he wrote. "We have to remember who we are: We are not Big Government Republicans. We are not Washington Republicans. We are Change Washington Republicans."

The word "change" appears nine times in the letter.

Poll: Romney in fourth place

Saturday's visit comes as Romney works to jumpstart stagnant South Carolina poll numbers.

Despite a flurry of visits, endorsements and advertising buys, a recent poll found Romney in fourth place among GOP contenders with 9 percent support, behind Fred Thompson (26 percent), Rudy Giuliani (23 percent) and John McCain (15 percent).

Sixteen percent of voters responded "don't know" in the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. That's the important number to Romney supporter Rod Benfield of Rock Hill, who believes his candidate will surge when people start paying closer attention.

"It's like a football game; you've got to play all four quarters," Benfield said. "I think we're in a long stretch here. To hang around in these early primaries, you've got to have a lot of money, and Gov. Romney has a lot."

Romney spoke earlier this year at Thursday's Too restaurant and later at the York County GOP convention. Since then, McCain, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee also have made stops in York County.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama says he plans to reschedule a visit to York County, while Hillary Clinton is expected to open a headquarters in Rock Hill in the next few weeks. Joe Biden has told Democrats he'll be here this fall.