MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Mitt Romney will deliver what his campaign is billing as a major policy speech on government spending to a large gathering of fiscally conservative activists in Washington, D.C., on Friday night.
The former Massachusetts governor is slated to speak at the Defending the American Dream Summit, an annual convention hosted by the libertarian-leaning advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
AFP's New Hampshire director, Corey Lewandowski, said that "3,000 conservatives from every state in the country will be there, and it's the type of conservative leaders that Mitt Romney will have to reach out to." The event will take place at the Washington Convention Center.
Romney will preview the speech during a Thursday evening event in Exeter, N.H., according to a campaign official.
Although he has led or been statistically tied for first place in most early-state and national polls, Romney has had a difficult time coalescing the support of many conservative activists who identify with the Tea Party.
But Lewandowski praised Romney for being receptive and communicative with his group in New Hampshire and said that the Washington event would mark a major opportunity for the candidate to build bridges to Tea Party-inspired activists.
Romney's address Friday will come as five of his GOP rivals share a stage for another major gathering in the nations' first voting state: the Republican Party of Iowa's Ronald Reagan Dinner in Des Moines.
Romney's decision to forgo that event is reflective of the delicate expectations game his campaign has played in the Hawkeye State. Despite being near the top of recent polls there, he has been hesitant to devote more time and resources to a state he invested most heavily in during his failed 2008 run.
Romney's decision to preview the speech in New Hampshire demonstrates the heavy emphasis he has placed on winning the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Herman Cain, who has carried out a relatively light early-state schedule, also is not on the bill in Des Moines; he will speak at the AFP summit on Saturday.
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