Sioux Falls, SD
South Dakotans will get their first chance to see a 2012 presidential candidate up close and personal Wednesday night.
That’s when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will give a speech to the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce during its annual meeting.
The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce says Romney's speech during their annual dinner isn't technically a campaign stop. The chamber invited him to talk with local business leaders about his business background, his time as Governor of Massachusetts and his involvement in the Salt Lake City Olympics.
But the logistics surrounding the event are being handled by Romney's campaign staff. As the campaign for president heats up, experts say it's not a bad idea for Romney to get his message out to a new group of voters.
"I think it's really good for him to stop by South Dakota and tell us his beliefs, where he believes he wants to take the country, and which direction he thinks we're headed," South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Tim Rave said.
Romney has always been near the top of the revolving list of Republican presidential candidates.
Even though South Dakota will be the final primary state, in a race without a clear cut favorite, Rave says it's good for Romney to reach out to as many voters as possible.
"It's early and there's a lot of ground to cover yet. You've seen the lead change three or four times already. People who were front runners are now way in the back, and vice versa. So, it's exciting. It's an exciting contest. It's fun just to have that exposure here in South Dakota too," Rave said.
In 2008, the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was so tight that both candidates made multiple appearances in South Dakota, but Ben Nesselhuf, the chair of the state Democratic Party, isn't betting on the Republican primary in 2012 to be the same way.
"That was a very rare occurrence that that happened, so I would doubt that that would happen, but you never know," Nesselhuf said.
Even if the 2012 Republican primary isn't decided in South Dakota, Nesselhuf says there is still an advantage for a Romney stop in Sioux Falls: it's close to Iowa.
"Maybe he's counting on some of the coverage spilling over into Iowa a little bit. Maybe he was just in the neighborhood and figured he'd swing by," Nesselhuf said.
The chamber started working on inviting Romney this spring before the presidential campaign really started heating up. Romney is expected to take the stage at the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce dinner just after 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
The only way to attend the event is to buy a ticket. They are $75 a person for chamber members, $150 for non-members and can be purchased on the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce website until noon Wednesday.