'He's not as conservative as people would hope for'
Romney faces doubts in South Carolina over issues that have plagued him elsewhere, including his support for a health care mandate in Massachusetts that is similar to President Obama's health care law, and the perception that because he has changed his mind, he cannot be trusted on key social issues, including abortion.
Paul Thurmond, a Charleston attorney whose father was Strom Thurmond, chaired Romney's grassroots coalition efforts in South Carolina four years ago. This time around, he has told the campaign he won't support Romney because he can't get past his "inconsistencies."
"He's got this background on health care, which has been problematic for him, and his message is really not that new. He's not as conservative as people would hope for," Thurmond, who is neutral in the race, told Yahoo News. "I know he has a history of success with business, but show us some unique ideas, something that can get people back to work. His message, so far, just really isn't resonating."
A lingering concern among Romney aides and supporters is how the candidate's Mormon faith will play in South Carolina, where the evangelical-Christian voting bloc is influential, even if it isn't quite as large as it is Iowa. But Haley said she doesn't believe Romney's religion will be an issue.
"South Carolina just elected a 38-year-old Indian female for governor of South Carolina," Haley told reporters, referring to herself. "What the people of South Carolina care about are values, and family and faith and what you do and results. And I think you can look at the Romneys and you can see this is a family of faith, this is a family of values, and a source of pride for anything they've ever done. I have faith in the people of South Carolina."
Yet Bob Taylor, a dean at Bob Jones University—who gave Romney one of his biggest endorsements in the state four years ago but, like many '08 supporters, is neutral today—said Romney's faith will be a concern for some evangelicals. Still, Taylor said, that doesn't mean they won't vote for him.
"If people are undecided when they head into that voting booth, I think they will cast their vote on who has the best chance of winning," Taylor told Yahoo News. "On that basis, they might well vote for Romney."