Sen. Rand Paul, the likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate who has already visited the first caucus and primary states, is headed to South Carolina which hosts the first major 2016 GOP primary, an event that in 2012 kept Newt Gingrich's hopes alive with a win.

Paul plans to visit Greenville, Spartanburg and Columbia for listening sessions and a barbecue.

"South Carolina Republicans are excited to hear from Senator Paul as he travels to South Carolina to share his message of limited government and free enterprise. South Carolina is proud to be an important part of the national process by highlighting rising stars in our party," said Matt Moore, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Rand PAC, the senator's political action committee, said he will be in South Carolina Friday, beginning in Greenville, where he will meet with party supporters and activists. He will then join Moore in Spartanburg and Columbia.

In the evening he will headline a summer barbecue hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party at the South Carolina State Farmer's Market in Columbia.

Paul has already visited Iowa and New Hampshire and has begun wooing evangelicals and minorities.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at