The Washington Times - April 2, 2013, 08:21AM

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, will travel to South Carolina next month to keynote the state GOP’s Silver Elephant Dinner — an appearance that puts the tea party favorite in a state that traditionally has been one of the first to vote in Republican presidential primaries.

“His popularity among the activists in South Carolina is already so huge he was a natural choice for the Silver Elephant,” a Republican with the event told CNN. “Our activists have been begging us to bring him. He is a rising star. He’s a Jim DeMint style of Republican.”

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Mr. DeMint is the state’s former senator who left his seat to take a job at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

CNN reported Tuesday that Mr. Cruz will speak on May 3 in Columbia.

Other up-and-coming Republicans also are scheduled to journey to early primary states in the coming months, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who plans to speak at Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids on May 10.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the 2012 South Carolina Republican presidential primary before his campaign slowly unraveled in the ensuing primaries.