Perry Suspends Pay for 2016 Campaign Staff in South Carolina

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Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stopped paying his 2016 presidential campaign's staff in the key early primary state of South Carolina, according to officials from the campaign.

"As the campaign moves along, tough decisions have to be made in respect to both monetary and time related resources," said spokeswoman Lucy Nashed in a statement to NBC 5 Monday evening. "Governor Perry remains committed to competing in the early states and will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The Governor is also looking forward to his trips to South Carolina this Thursday and to Iowa next week."

Perry's South Carolina campaign operation included six to seven paid employees. Those employees are now working on a volunteer basis, according to Perry Campaign State Chair Katon Dawson.

The Texas governor has faced flagging poll numbers in recent weeks. He was unable to poll high enough to be included on the main stage at last week's much-watched Fox News GOP debate. Reports say Perry has also suffered from sluggish fundraising efforts. 

He has nonetheless spent more time than any White House hopeful in Iowa, which opens presidential primary voting, and has frequently visited New Hampshire and South Carolina, home to the next two primaries.

Nashed said Perry "remains committed to competing" in all three.

It wasn't immediately clear if the pay suspension, which was first reported by the National Journal, would be permanent. 

Katon Dawson, Perry's South Carolina state campaign chairman, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday night. But some other Perry staffers in South Carolina said they would continue to work as volunteers, at least for the time being, believing Perry's fortunes may improve.

The campaign announced in July that Perry had raised only around $1 million in about a month — though super PAC support pushed its total war chest to nearly $18 million.

Perry spent 14 years at Texas governor, the longest tenure in state history, before leaving office in January.

He's hoping to convince Republican primary voters that he's humbler and better prepared than in 2012, when his first presidential bid opened to strong fundraising and a brief surge in the polls — but fizzled amid a series of public gaffes.

Perry dropped out of the race four years ago just before the South Carolina primary, after disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

NBC 5's Holley Ford contributed to this report.

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