Mitt Romney will be in the capital city of Columbia on Saturday, where Fox News has learned the former Massachusetts governor will be discussing economic issues with local small business leaders.
Romney aides tell Fox News the presumptive GOP 2012 frontrunner has not been in South Carolina since the fall of 2010, a fact that has Republican activists in the home of the First in the South presidential primary buzzing. South Carolina GOP insiders tell FOX NEWS they're "not convinced he's legitimately trying to play in South Carolina... there's no organizational structure in place to run a serious ground game."
To that end, Romney's exploratory committee also made its first hire of the cycle in the Palmetto State, announcing David Raad will serve as senior adviser. Raad worked for George W. Bush's successful South Carolina run during the 2000 presidential campaign, before moving on more recently to the Republican National Committee.
Romney has largely been staying in the crucial early state of New Hampshire, where he owns a home. The South Carolina trip will surely be seen by political insiders as Romney cranking his campaign into a higher gear.
The 2008 GOP presidential candidate has not made an official announcement but is widely considered to be all but in the race for the White House.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.