By KASIE HUNT, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is planning a swing-state summer bus tour that will also roll through South Carolina, the early presidential primary battleground.
It's officially aimed at selling books, not winning votes, but the freshman senator and possible vice presidential pick is set to make multiple stops not just in his home state of Florida but also in North Carolina and Virginia, critical presidential battlegrounds this fall. On the way, he'll make several appearances in South Carolina, where Republicans hold their first-in-the-South presidential primary.
Rubio has been informally auditioning for the traditional vice presidential role as attack dog, recently telling South Carolina Republicans that Americans hadn't seen such a "divisive figure in modern American history" as Democratic President Barack Obama.
The bus tour, set for the week of the Fourth of July holiday, is aimed at promoting his autobiography, "An American Son," to be released in June. The tentative schedule, provided by aides to The Associated Press, calls for Rubio to start the tour in Miami, where he lives, and end in the northern Virginia suburbs outside of Washington, where he works.
The book's cover features Rubio's current title — "U.S. Senator from Florida" — but the schedule highlights his national ambitions.
His bus will start in West Palm Beach, Fla., and stop in most of Florida's largest cities. After a stop in Atlanta, it's on to South Carolina, where he'll be in Columbia, the state capital, and Greenville, in the conservative northern part of the state.
Then he'll head to North Carolina, a state Obama won in 2008 but that will likely be closely contested in 2012. He's planning stops in four cities there before taking the bus straight through Virginia's critical swing region, stopping in Norfolk, Richmond and northern Virginia.
Rubio has been steadily raising his national profile, and is also discussed as a potential presidential contender in 2016 if Romney loses this year. He raced to finish his autobiography so it would come out the same day as "The Rise of Marco Rubio," a competing biography written by a Washington Post reporter. Author Manuel Roig-Franzia has already revealed details about Rubio's past, including his childhood stint in the Mormon Church.
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