Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is heading back home this weekend. (Michael Seamans /Demotix/Corbis)

PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff reports from a Paul event in Atlantic, Iowa, on Thursday:

[Paul] was surrounded as he headed for the exit, but I had a chance to talk to him briefly, long enough to hear him say he feels good about how things look -- he’s running second in most recent polls -- and to learn he’s going home to Texas for New Year’s weekend. I asked if that means he feels so good about his position in the Hawkeye State, he can afford to take off a couple of days right before the Caucuses. “No, I would never say that,” he answered with a big smile.

Paul’s campaign confirmed to us Friday that he will be spending the weekend in Texas.

It’s not unheard of for candidates to take some time away from campaigning (former House speaker Newt Gingrich took a weekend off earlier this month), but doing so less than a week out from the first nominating contest of the cycle would seem to be a bit of a gamble.

In another pivotal contest last year, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), then the undisputed frontrunner in the race to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), disappeared from the campaign trail for a week – just as then-state Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) longshot bid was gaining traction. It was a move that – along with other notable missteps – contributed to the collapse of Coakley’s campaign.