CBSN

Romney and his Republican rivals look ahead to South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, left, speaks as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney applauds during a rally at the Boiling Springs Fire Station, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in Greenville, S.C.
AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a commanding lead going into the New Hampshire primary, so he's investing some time and money in the third presidential nominating contest: the South Carolina primary.

The Romney campaign today released a new television ad in South Carolina called "Free Enterprise," which takes aim at the National Labor Relations Board. The ad features footage of Romney visiting the Boeing factory in South Carolina. The NLRB had threatened legal action against Boeing, charging the company built the non-union South Carolina factory because of labor fights in Seattle. Romney's ad is running one day after President Obama recess-appointed three NRLB board members.

"The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the president, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, 'You can't build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a Right to Work state,'" Romney says in the ad. "That is simply un-American. It is political payback of the worst kind."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, left, speaks as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney applauds during a rally at the Boiling Springs Fire Station, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in Greenville, S.C.
AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

Romney is traveling to South Carolina today where he'll campaign with Sen. John McCain -- who won the 2008 South Carolina primary -- and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

The former Massachusetts governor won a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday and according to one of the latest polls, is a full 30 points ahead of his opponents in New Hampshire. If he can keep that up and then win in South Carolina, Romney would be three-for-three in the nominating contests, leaving his GOP rivals in the dust. No non-incumbent Republican has won both Iowa and New Hampshire since the modern caucus system was created in 1976 -- and every GOP nominee since 1980 has won South Carolina.

However, winning the state won't be easy for him. Romney placed fourth in the unabashedly red state in the 2008 primary, and the last few polls out of South Carolina, conducted in mid-December, put him more than 10 points behind Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich, of course, has seen his popularity drop dramatically since early December, but after his weak finish in Iowa, he's running a more aggressive campaign against Romney now. Romney's other opponents are also ready to capitalize on his weakness in South Carolina.

After some speculation Texas Gov. Rick Perry was ready to drop out of the race, he said on Wednesday he's in and headed for South Carolina. Senior Perry adviser Katon Dawson told the Los Angeles Times that the Perry campaign is "ready to rumble" in the Palmetto state. What's more, he said, "This is a mean state. It's going to get personal."

Rick Santorum, who nearly tied Romney in the Iowa caucuses, has spent more time than any other candidate in South Carolina, according to the L.A. Times, and plans to be there again on Sunday.