Palin backs Haley for S.C. governor

Sarah Palin

COLUMBIA -- Sarah Palin, the GOP's nominee for vice president in 2008 and former Alaska governor, is endorsing state Rep. Nikki Haley in her bid to become governor.

Haley's campaign announced Thursday that Palin will officially endorse the Lexington Republican at 5:30 p.m. today at the Statehouse.

Palin's backing is an honor, Haley said. "Sarah Palin has energized the conservative movement like few others in our generation," Haley said in a statement. "She has helped millions of Americans find the power of their voice. I am extremely proud that she has offered her support to my candidacy."

Haley has served in the state House since 2005. Haley recently quit her job as assistant executive director of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation to devote more time to her gubernatorial campaign.

Haley also has been endorsed by former first lady Jenny Sanford and 2008 presidential hopeful former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others.

Sanford and Haley will hold a town hall meeting from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. today at the Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. The event is free and open to the public.

Haley will face U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state Attorney General Henry McMaster in the June 8 primary.

McMaster has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and Palin's former running mate.

Barrett has been endorsed by 2008 presidential hopeful former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., and 2012 presidential hopefuls U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

Facing off for the Democratic primary are state Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston, S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.