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Rick Perry undeterred by indictment, heads to early-voting states

Even as he faces a two felony charges for an abuse of power at home, Gov. Rick Perry isn't changing his plans for early 2016 courtship.
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity.

Even as he faces two felony charges for abuse of power at home in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry is undeterred and plans to continue courting national voters ahead of his expected 2016 presidential run.

Perry has been busy visiting early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire this summer, and raising his national profile, with a media blitz over the border crisis. After dismissing the grand jury’s indictments over the weekend, he’s still planning to head back out on the road this week, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

Perry hasn't officially declared that he's running in 2016, but he appears to be laying the groundwork for a second White House bid.

Aides to the governor told the AP he would maintain his planned public schedule, including a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Thursday and visits to a handful of events in New Hampshire next weekend. Later in the month, he’ll head to an Americans for Prosperity event in Dallas, where he will be joined by tea party darlings Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, before he heads to South Carolina, back to Iowa, and then to Asia to promote Texas trade.

Sometime amid these visits, the governor will be booked at the Travis County Courthouse, just steps from the governor’s mansion in Austin, the AP reported, where he may be fingerprinted and photographed.

It’s not exactly the presidential photo opportunity the governor was surely hoping for this summer. A special prosecutor brought charges against the governor on Friday, alleging that Perry's threat to veto funds for the state's Public Integrity Unit veered into illegal territory because it was used to coerce the resignation of a Democratic prosecutor.

On Sunday, the governor attempted to use the indictment to rally conservatives against government overreach.

"This is not the way that we settle differences, political differences in this country," Perry said Sunday on Fox News, as he celebrated liberals who have defended him. ''You don't do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box."

Other Republicans—many of them his potential 2016 rivals—have also come to his defense. 

“I am proud to stand with Rick Perry,” Cruz wrote on Facebook, calling the indictment “extremely questionable.”

It’s a “blatant misuse of the judicial system by liberal activists,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote on Facebook. 

Perry sparked presidential speculation earlier this summer, when he promised that if he did run again, he would be better prepared than he was for the last round — when he famously stumbled during a GOP primary debate, forgetting the third branch of government he had promised to eliminate.

He has reemerged this time around bolder—even hipper, as msnbc’s Emma Margolin reported last week—and tougher, coming out strongly against the president’s handling of the border crisis, attempting to cement himself as a leader on immigration, the other issue that helped sink his 2012 campaign.