Washington (CNN) – He may work in the nation's capital, but it's Sen. Rand Paul's upcoming itinerary that might tell us his ultimate goal.
The Republican from Kentucky makes stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada over the next few months. Those four states kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
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The son of former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's 2012 GOP presidential bid was his third and final run for the White House, has not been shy about his own presidential ambitions.
"I am different than some in that I'm not going to deny that I'm interested," the first term senator told ABC News in November, soon after the 2012 presidential election.
As for his timetable, a breakfast last month sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor Paul said "we're considering it, but we won't make a decision before 2014."
Three years ago this month, backed by his father's libertarian supporters and by tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives, Paul scored a big victory over the GOP's establishment's pick in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary, which launched him to victory in the general election that November.
This year Paul's been in the spotlight, giving the tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address. His filibuster against the administration's drone program captured national attention, as did his speech to a largely African-American audience at Howard University in the nation's capital.
Friday he's off to Iowa, two and a half years before the state's caucuses, the first contest in the 2016 cycle. The most high profile event of his two-day swing is his keynoting of the state GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids. Among other topics, Paul's expected to speak out about immigration and border security, a pressing issue among the Republican base.
But Paul is also scheduled to hold a coffee with the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, breakfast with the Johnson County Republicans in Iowa City, and take part in a "Pastors and Pews" event put together by the evangelical based American Renewal Project.
Paul's stance opposing a national law banning same-sex marriage and allowance for abortion exceptions may not play well with the social conservatives who have a big say in Iowa's Republican caucuses. And if the 50-year-old senator transforms this year's flirtations into an actual campaign, he'll need to expand his support from libertarian and tea party base.
Paul's next stop after Iowa is New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary and traditionally votes second in the calendar. Paul teams up with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at a state party's first annual Liberty Dinner.
At the end of the month Paul speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
Next month Paul heads to South Carolina, the first southern state to vote in the primaries. He headlines a state party lunch in Greenville and a barbecue dinner in Columbia, which was first reported by CNN.
In July, Paul is planning to attend the annual FreedomFest event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Silver State is the first western state vote in the primary season. And a return trip to Iowa (this time in the Des Moines area) is in the works for later in the month.
Paul Chief of Staff Doug Stafford tells CNN that Paul's travels are part of his push to weigh in on the future direction of the GOP.
"Rand is moving forward as a national leader and wants to speak out on issues of importance as well as the direction of the party for the future. These appearances as well as his day to day work in the Senate give him the ability to do just that," said Stafford, who's also a top Paul strategist and who's moving over from the Senate office to steer Paul's political action committee.
Paul's appeal to Republican voters is also being accompanied by a coast to coast outreach to GOP donors.
Add all this together, and it gives off the appearance that Paul isn't just testing the waters, he's diving in.