Is it 2016 already? Sen. Marco Rubio soon headed to Iowa

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida speaks at the University of Miami in October. Rubio, who campaigned for Mitt Romney, will soon visit Iowa, prompting some political observers to ask whether he too has presidential ambitions.
(Hector Gabino / El Nuevo Herald/Associated Press)
<i> This post has been updated. See below for details. ></i>

BOSTON — The race for 2016 has officially begun.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will headline a birthday fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad next week, a benchmark gathering that is expected to attract hundreds of Republicans in the state that will kick off the next presidential nomination contest.

Anytime any politician appears in states like Iowa or New Hampshire, they cause shock waves because of these states’ early voting roles in selecting party nominees.

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“Every single move any national politician makes here is looked at through the caucus lens,” said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad. “There’s no getting around it.”

Similar speculation swirled on the Democratic side when termed-out Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke a few weeks ago at the premier Democratic fundraiser in Des Moines.

Rubio will speak at the Palace Theater at Adventureland in a Des Moines suburb on Nov. 17. A similar event one year ago raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Branstad and attracted the likes of Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and others who were competing for the GOP presidential nomination. Branstad has served as governor for 17 years in separate terms and has not announced whether he will run again.

Branstad invited Rubio after meeting the rising GOP star during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August. Rubio accepted the invitation a while ago, but the news release about the event was sent out Thursday, just as many began speculating about the future of the GOP.


[UPDATED Nov. 9, 9:29 a.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that the news release announcing Rubio as the headliner at Branstad’s birthday fundraiser was sent on Wednesday. It was sent on Thursday.]