Romney to visit state after setting up committee

former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

Julie Jacobson

COLUMBIA -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney heads to South Carolina on Saturday for his first visit since forming a presidential exploratory committee.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said he will visit the Columbia area, but the details haven't been worked out.

Romney formed his exploratory committee in April and this is a trip to the key first-in-the-South primary state.

In 2008, Romney had one of the best-honed campaigns and snapped up top consultants and endorsements quickly, including U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's. But his 2008 bid ended in criticism in South Carolina when he bypassed the state in the final days before the primary.

The 2012 campaign has been a slow-forming field that's shedding candidates as fast as hopefuls have been shy to formally announce they're in the race.

Romney has loads of cash and a presumptive front-runner status. He will make his first staff announcement for the state today, his spokeswoman said.

His top South Carolina consultants from 2008 -- Warren Tompkins and Terry Sullivan -- aren't working with him this time. Tompkins isn't involved with a presidential candidate and Sullivan now works for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.