COLUMBIA — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that he is taking the next few months to assess if he’ll officially run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Graham said at a Columbia news conference on Monday that he’s giving himself until May to make that final decision. Graham said he planned to visit other early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire in the months to come to see how his message of bipartisan cooperation sells.

“I feel like I’m ready to do this. I feel like I’m prepared to be president,” he said. “Whether or not there’s a pathway forward, I won’t know until I try.”

Last week, Graham announced he had set up a committee to explore running for the nomination. On Monday, Graham said his national security experience has uniquely equipped him to handle pressing concerns, like dealing with the Islamic State group.

“The times which we live in are being dominated by the issues I think I’m best capable of dealing with,” Graham said.

Graham said that while he considers himself a conservative, he’s a pragmatic person who understands bipartisan support is necessary to make progress in Congress on issues like illegal immigration or energy independence.

“I have shown an ability not only to fight for the conservative cause but to solve problems that affect all Americans,” Graham said. “I am a conservative, but I’m also a problem solver.”