NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.— Can a Southern governor help keep Mitt Romney from tumbling from his front-runner position in the South Carolina GOP presidential primary on Saturday?
After endorsing Romney Friday morning, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell traveled to Charleston, S.C., Friday afternoon to campaign with the candidate, who is struggling to maintain a shrinking lead in the GOP presidential primary sweepstakes.
During his campaign swing, McDonnell repeated several times that Romney carries the values and morality necessary to lead the country.
"What we need in America more than anything right now is leadership," McDonnell said. "We need people of character who will lead this nation at a very difficult time."
Quoting George Washington, and noting he grew up just a mile from the first president’s home, McDonnell said Romney had the moral compass for the top job in the land.
"'The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained,'" McDonnell quoted.
"In other words, character counts and values matter in our people and in our leaders," McDonnell said. "So I am here to ask you to elect a man of character and decency."
While Romney took his turn at the microphone, McDonnell stood behind him as the GOP front-runner talked to several hundred potential voters at the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston, S.C.
McDonnell later worked the crowd, shaking hands and fielding questions from the press.
South Carolina holds its first-in-the-South primary Saturday. The Palmetto State has picked the eventual Republican nominee since 1980, but heading into the primary, Romney finds himself slumping in the polls.
The clear frontrunner a week ago, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is now trailing former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who in recent days has been embroiled in scandal relating to allegations of infidelity from former wife Marianne Gingrich.
McDonnell was also scheduled to campaign for Romney in Greenville and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Oft-mentioned as a possible running mate for Romney, McDonnell could deliver valuable electoral votes from Virginia, considered in recent years to be a swing state.