(Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will pick up the endorsement of Senator John Thune in Iowa later on Wednesday in a boost to his campaign for the 2012 White House race, a local newspaper reported.
The Sioux City Journal said Thune, a highly respected two-term senator from South Dakota, would endorse Romney at an event at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. EST) in Iowa, a key state which holds the first nominating contest on January 3.
The former Massachusetts governor has been running high in the polls among Republicans and Thune's backing will be a fillip to his campaign.
"Mitt Romney has shown throughout his life in the private sector, as leader of the Olympics, as governor and in this campaign that he will not back down from difficult challenges," the paper quoted Thune as saying in a statement that was not available on the senator's website. "Washington could use these common sense principles at such a critical time."
The paper said the two Republicans would hold a town hall event in the afternoon, adding it was unclear still whether Thune would campaign in Iowa on behalf of Romney again in advance of the Iowa caucuses.
"He will be a trusted adviser as I bring this message to voters, to work to reverse President (Barack) Obama's failed policies and reform Washington," the paper quoted Romney as saying.
Romney has remained steady on about a quarter of the Republican vote in polls and is favored by pro-business Republicans. But he is also viewed skeptically by some conservatives because he was governor of liberal Massachusetts and is a Mormon, a religion some evangelicals do not consider Christian.
Writing by Sandra Maler in Washington, Editing by Mark Heinrich