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Rick Perry skips campaign forum to deal with Texas fires

Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry leaves a campaign stop at Harvey's Bakery and Coffee Shop in Dover
Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry leaves a campaign stop at Harvey's Bakery and Coffee Shop in Dover

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry canceled a scheduled appearance at a Republican presidential campaign forum in South Carolina on Monday to return home and supervise a fight against rampaging wildfires.

Perry, who leads in opinion polls in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, urged Texans to exercise extreme caution as the fires burned across the state and killed two people.

"Governor Perry's first priority is to the people of Texas during this natural disaster," campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said in a statement. Perry also canceled fundraising appearances planned in California on Tuesday.

Perry was one of six Republican candidates scheduled to appear later on Monday at a forum sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a leader of Tea Party fiscal conservatives.

He returned to Texas after a morning appearance at a Conway, South Carolina, town hall meeting with U.S. Representative Tim Scott.

(Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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