[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/16/artpawlenty0523y.gi.jpg caption ="Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty lent a hand to Nikki Haley on Tuesday."](CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty made his first visit to the early primary state of South Carolina on Tuesday and became the latest potential presidential candidate to donate to Republican Nikki Haley's gubernatorial campaign.
Pawlenty spoke to about sixty activists and business leaders at the Spartanburg home of South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd about the threat of government spending and the need to elect Republicans in November, according to people present at the fundraiser, which benefited the state party.
Though he was accompanied on the trip by Terry Nelson, a senior adviser to his political operation, Pawlenty did not mention any potential White House ambitions.
He also chatted privately with Haley, an up-and-coming GOP star who is certain to be a key player in presidential politics as the 2012 primary season approaches.
Potential White House candidates Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney each endorsed and contributed to Haley before her primary and runoff victories earlier this month, with Romney managing to donate an eye-popping $42,000 through various chapters of his Free and Strong America political action committee.
Pawlenty donated $3,500 to Haley this week through his Freedom First PAC, according to his spokesman Alex Conant, and $3,000 to Sen. Jim DeMint. Both Haley and DeMint backed Romney during the last presidential cycle.
The Minnesota governor has more political activity scheduled for Wednesday, when he travels to Rock Hill to help raise money for House candidate Mick Mulvaney. Along with donations to Haley and DeMint, Pawlenty has contributed $2,000 to Mulvaney and the rest of state's Republican congressional candidates: Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan and Rep. Joe Wilson.
He's also slated to attend a luncheon in Columbia with several of the state's business leaders and top GOP donors who are looking for a candidate to back in 2012. According to former South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson, who was invited to the sit-down, the lunch meeting will include "a group of very influential Republicans."
After the lunch, Pawlenty and Nelson will meet with Republican strategists Richard Quinn and Trey Walker - the team that managed John McCain's two presidential campaigns in the state - along with several GOP statewide candidates, including lieutenant governor candidate Ken Ard and Attorney General candidate Alan Wilson.