Rick Perry's busy summer schedule

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 9:34am

Rick Perry's headed back to South Carolina Tuesday and Wednesday.

It's the third trip by the longtime Republican governor of Texas to the Palmetto State in the past year. Perry, who launched a failed campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, is not running for re-election this year and instead is considering another bid for the White House in 2016.

The visit to South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary, precedes upcoming stops this summer for Perry in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that hold the first two contests in the race for the White House.

But with the midterm elections just four months away, Perry advisers emphasize that this trip is mostly about 2014. Perry will team up with Gov. Nikki Haley at the Dorchester County GOP Big Bang BBQ, just north of Charleston.

South Carolina's GOP governor is running for re-election this November. Perry, a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, remains a member of the RGA's executive committee, and has traveled across the country to help Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates.

Earlier Tuesday Perry tours the Medal of Honor Museum at Patriot's Point and holds a business roundtable in North Charleston. On Wednesday the Texas governor will be the main attraction at a hot dog and hamburger cookout fundraiser for GOP Rep. Nick Mulvaney, who's running this year for a third term in the House.

"Right now he's pretty focused on 2014. Does everything he's doing to help fellow Republicans in 2014, whether that's assisting congressional members or gubernatorial candidates, supplement as preparation for 2016? Of course," a Republican strategist close to Perry told CNN.

Perry's 2012 bid for the GOP nomination collapsed in South Carolina, just days before the state's primary. He's said that if he runs again, he'll be better prepared.

A veteran GOP consultant in South Carolina says the field is wide open right now.

"Perry is interesting because he started very strong here last time around and kind of fizzled. So I think there's definitely an opening for him in South Carolina if he can create a compelling case for himself to Republicans here. That being said, the same holds true for pretty much all of the 2016ers. It's very early to start reading tea leaves. A lot can happen between now and then," said GOP consultant Joel Sawyer, who was a top adviser to former Gov. Mark Sanford.

Perry heads back to Iowa for a two-day swing July 19-20. This will be his third visit to the Hawkeye State since last November. And he'll make his first post-2012 stop in New Hampshire on August 22 for meetings with political and business leaders.

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