Rand Paul 2012? Senator Reportedly Testing Waters For Presidential Bid

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is testing the waters for a possible presidential bid in 2012 in the key primary state of South Carolina, the Post and Courier reports.

According to the Palmetto State-based outlet, Paul made a stop in Charleston on Monday and signaled a campaign for the White House in the next election cycle is not off the table. "The only decision I've made is I won't run against my dad," he said.

Last month, Paul addressed the prospect he could run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. "Come back and ask me in a few months," he responded when asked about the possibility in an interview with ABC News. He suggested that he's "very much interested in trying to shape the debate" on issues such as reducing the debt and government spending.

The Post and Courier reports that in South Carolina Paul suggested he has upcoming trips planned to the primary battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire in part because he wants "the Tea Party to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012." The remarks echo a similar sentiment he conveyed to ABC News last month.

"There are always problems in our nation's capital that are more important than party affiliation and I will always believe that," he said. "It's not necessarily Tea Party versus Republican Party, but I would say that if you ask me what's more important, tackling our nation's deficit, our nation's debt problems or being a Republican, I would say tackling the debt."