12/16/2011 01:54 am ET

Nikki Haley-Mitt Romney Endorsement: South Carolina Governor Reportedly Will Endorse GOP Presidential Candidate

Mitt Romney has a big endorsement coming his way.

According to a report from Politico, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will formally announce on Friday morning that she is endorsing Romney for the GOP presidential nomination. The announcement will occur on Fox News' "Fox & Friends."

As The Washington Post reported on Thursday, Haley's endorsement has been highly coveted by GOP candidates despite her falling poll numbers:

Now, a year after her narrow win, the South Carolina governor is withering in the polls, with only one-third of voters surveyed approving of her job performance -- and barely half of all Republicans polled. And yet Haley sees the Republican Party's top presidential prospects bounding to her doorstep with the same ardor once reserved for then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose backing was crucial in Haley's election. Haley has played "hostess" (her word) as she welcomed for overnight visits Rep. Michele Bachmann, Newt and Callista Gingrich and Ann Romney -- in 2008, Haley backed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who dropped by Haley's office recently.

Haley's seal-of-approval could help Romney in South Carolina's January 21 primary election.

Her upcoming announcement comes on the heels of another high-profile Romney endorsement. On Tuesday, former GOP Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell threw her support behind Romney. "For me, this endorsement comes down to trust," explained O'Donnell. She continued, "I am endorsing Governor Romney because I trust him to do the right thing. He has the strength of conviction to do the right thing regardless of opposition." Romney expressed gratitude for O'Donnell's endorsement:

"Christine has been a leader in the conservative movement for many years," Romney said in a statement sent out by his campaign Tuesday night. "Christine recognizes that excessive government threatens us now and threatens future generations, and I am pleased to have her on my team."

The race for the GOP presidential nomination is heating up, notably in the war of words between Romney and fellow contender Newt Gingrich. The former Massachusetts governor recently blasted Gingrich as an "extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world." Gingrich had previously criticized Romney for "bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain [Capital]." But as HuffPost's Jon Ward reports, the former Speaker of the House is utilizing a new strategy against Romney. More from Ward:

FORT DODGE, Iowa -- Newt Gingrich is trying to turn Mitt Romney's attacks back on him by labeling the former Massachusetts governor a negative campaigner.

Gingrich, foreshadowing a line of attack against Romney in Thursday night's debate, told a packed ballroom at an Iowa country club Wednesday that he would not respond to the barrage of criticism and negative TV ads coming at him from Romney and other candidates in the GOP primary.

Instead, he said, he would "talk about positive solutions in a positive way."

But subtly, Gingrich -- who has promised not to attack his primary opponents -- sought to paint Romney as cynical and even desperate, labeling him an attack dog and implying that he represents all that is wrong with American politics.