05/23/2011 12:33 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2011

Newt Gingrich Sets South Carolina Visit Ahead Of 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will make his first appearance in early-primary state South Carolina since officially launching his campaign this month.

Gingrich's South Carolina adviser Katon Dawson said Monday the former U.S. House speaker will talk to a Rotary Club lunch Friday in Columbia.

It will also be Gingrich's first visit to the state since he criticized GOP plans for a sweeping overhaul of Medicare.

Gingrich backed away from that criticism as uproar over his comments grew. Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says Gingrich will have to explain himself to voters in this first-in-the-South primary state.

Haley was highly critical of Gingrich's posture toward the Medicare issue in a recent interview with CNN.

"What he said was absolutely unfortunate," she said. "When you have a conservative fighting for real change, the last thing we need is a presidential candidate cutting him off at the knees."