Ann Romney stumps for husband, Mitt

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears with his wife, Ann, during a Faith and Freedom Coalition Rally at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 22, 2011.

COLUMBIA -- Ann Romney could score one of her husband's biggest presidential campaign victories to date as a guest in the Governor's Mansion -- persuading Gov. Nikki Haley to back former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Ann Romney had an extra chance to lobby for her husband Thursday night when she stayed with the governor and South Carolina first gentleman Michael Haley.

Haley's endorsement, given her influence among South Carolina conservatives, could give the presidential candidate she backs a significant advantage at the ballot box. Haley endorsed Romney in 2007 when she was a House member.

Haley has invited all the presidential candidates to stay at the Governor's Mansion. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota took her up on the offer twice, and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to stay in the future.

Ann Romney is in South Carolina on a two-day swing. She said Thursday that her husband of 42 years is a compassionate, committed family man whose conservative values will appeal to South Carolinians.

Ann Romney said that as president her husband would make America economically viable and restore the country to its pro-growth, pro-business roots.

"He's a turnaround guy," she said in an interview from Greenville.

She is expected to formally file paperwork today to allow her husband to run as a candidate in the South Carolina primary.

Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly said a candidate's spouse can help connect voters to the candidate on a personal level.

"When campaigning on their own, spouses can be a powerful voice," Connelly said. "Ann Romney is a perfect example. Her battle with cancer is inspirational and sheds light on Governor Romney's character and faith."

When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, Romney said she saw her husband's dedication, love and commitment like no other time in their marriage. He helped her get out of bed on some pretty depressing days, she said.

"Mitt reminded me he loved me for who I am," she said.

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855 and follow her on Twitter at @yvonnewenger.

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