Doug Stafford, who is widely seen as Paul’s closest adviser, will soon resign as chief of staff to manage Paul’s national political operation. Today’s news is the clearest sign yet that Paul, a potential 2016 contender, is building a presidential campaign. …

Stafford will be focused on directing the senator’s organization in early-primary states, his calendar, and his communications. He will also run Paul’s political-action committees, which are expected to grow. Those groups — RAND PAC and Rand Paul for U.S. Senate — are the financial and political foundation for Paul’s likely presidential campaign.

And it sure looks like Paul is planning to jump into the 2016 race. His upcoming schedule is packed with primary-related stops, and sources say it’ll only get busier. That’s why Stafford is making the jump now, and not after the 2014 election — Paul wants his senior aide at his side as he hits the trail.

Paul has two upcoming trips to Iowa, a speech in New Hampshire on May 20, and a lecture at the Ronald Reagan presidential library on May 31. He’s also planning events in South Carolina, among other states.