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Is 2016 Starting Already? Marco Rubio Heads to Iowa

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney only lost his presidential bid on Tuesday night.  So when does the courting of voters for the Republican 2016 nomination begin? How about next week?

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is heading to the first caucus state of Iowa on Nov. 17 to headline an annual campaign fundraising birthday party for Iowa governor Terry Branstad.

Last year all the presidential hopefuls, except for Mitt Romney, came to the party to court the governor and Iowa political dignitaries who attended the bash.

The governor’s spokesperson, Tim Albrecht, a caucus expert himself, told ABC News that Branstad invited Rubio “a couple of months ago” and is “excited he accepted.”

“Sen. Rubio is a star within our party,” Albrecht said. “We were excited Sen. Rubio accepted, and regardless of what happened on Tuesday he was going to come, and it guarantees a successful fundraiser.”

And as for the assumption that this means Rubio is a sure thing for a 2016 presidential bid? Albrecht said the speculation is one of the bonuses of living in the Hawkeye state and he knows Rubio will be a “major draw.”

“I’m sure people will speculate regardless, and if Gov. Romney had won people would speculate about 2020,” Albrecht said. “When you live in Iowa you’re under a microscope.”

This is not Rubio’s first trip to one of the early voting states. He headlined the South Carolina GOP’s Silver Elephant Dinner in May and stumped for Romney in many of the crucial early states in addition to his home state of Florida, including New Hampshire and Nevada. Rubio was actually supposed to campaign for Romney in Iowa as well in July, but his plane was forced to make an emergency landing en route from an event in Las Vegas forcing to stop in New Mexico.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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