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Published February 27 2012

Romney's visit to Fargo set for Thursday morning

FARGO – A third Republican presidential candidate plans to visit North Dakota in advance of the March 6 caucuses here.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will rally with supporters at 8 a.m. Thursday in Fargo at Wrigley Mechanical Inc., 4102 15th Ave. N.W.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven announced Romney’s forthcoming visit Monday morning on air with conservative radio host Scott Hennen.

Hoeven is among more than two dozen state officials and legislators to formally endorse Romney’s presidential bid. Hoeven and his wife, Mikey, are heading up Romney’s campaign efforts in the state.

In announcing the details of Romney’s visit Monday afternoon, the North Dakota Republican Party called the former Massachusetts governor’s visit to Fargo “big news for our state and even bigger news for our presidential caucus.”

“Governor Romney brings with him a full force of national media and stirs a great deal of excitement among Republicans in the state,” state GOP spokesman Matt Becker said.

Romney will be the third presidential contender to visit North Dakota in less than a month.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul visited Williston, Dickinson, Jamestown and Bismarck last week. In mid-February, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum visited the Oil Patch and made a campaign stop in Fargo.

Becker said the campaign stops by three of the GOP’s four top contenders shows North Dakota’s importance in the caucus schedule.

“We felt strongly that North Dakota’s vibrant economy warranted the attention of the Republican contenders this year, and the visits from Senator Santorum, Congressman Paul and now Governor Romney all confirm that,” he said, adding: “We are getting ready for a caucus turnout that could set records.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the only GOP candidate who hasn’t visited North Dakota. A message to his campaign Monday was not returned.

Romney won North Dakota’s caucuses in 2008, but he lost the party nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

He last visited the state in advance of the 2010 midterm elections when he helped raise campaign funds for Hoeven and Rep. Rick Berg.