Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney plans to come to North Carolina on April 18 for two fundraisers a luncheon at the Angus Barn in Charlotte and a 5-6:30 p.m. event at Myers Park Country Club.

The state s GOP presidential primary isn t until May 8, but early voting starts April 19 the day after frontrunner Romney s visit.

N.C. Republicans invited to attend the Romney fundraisers are being asked to RSVP as either an Event Chair ($25,000) or as a Host Committee Member ($10,000).

This is a terrific day for North Carolina and your leadership will be a great investment in the future of America! former U.S. Ambassador Dave Phillips of High Point, the Romney campaign s N.C. finance chairman, wrote in a letter inviting potential donors.

A poll released last week showed Romney narrowly leading the Republican field in North Carolina.

According to Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic firm, Romney led with 31 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 27 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia at 24 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 8 percent. The margin of error: 4.4 percentage points.

A win in North Carolina would be a special boost for Romney, who is looking to prove his appeal in the South, a GOP stronghold. He won in Florida, but lost to Santorum in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee and to Gingrich in South Carolina and Georgia.

Also at stake May 8: North Carolina s 55 national convention delegates, which will be awarded on a proportional, not winner-take-all, basis.

Romney has been endorsed by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the state s senior senator.

But Santorum, Gingrich and Paul also have support in North Carolina and are expected to compete and visit here.

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