[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/22/art.demintrubio.jpg caption="Marco Rubio will join Sen. Jim DeMint for a three-city tour of South Carolina"]Washington (CNN) - Here's one indicator of Marco Rubio's star power: the Florida Republican Senate candidate has not even won his election, but he's already heading to a key state in the presidential nominating process.
Rubio will join Sen. Jim DeMint, one of his political patrons, for a three-city tour of South Carolina on March 15 to "promote common sense ideas and new conservative leadership," a GOP source in the state told CNN Monday.
DeMint aides will also launch a new Web site - DeMintRubio.com - to promote the tour starting Tuesday. DeMint broke with his GOP colleagues in the Senate last summer to endorse Rubio in his GOP primary battle against Gov. Charlie Crist. The conservative senator also introduced Rubio before the rising star's speech last Thursday to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The trip is being promoted through "Friends of DeMint and Rubio," a joint fundraising committee established on behalf of DeMint's 2010 re-election bid and Rubio's campaign.
The two Republicans will visit Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, a swing that will give Rubio a chance to meet activists and key political players in the state, which has voted for the eventual Republican presidential nominee in every primary contest going back to 1980.
UPDATE: The Crist campaign was quick to pounce on the news of Rubio's out-of-state foray.
"It is remarkable that the New York Times cover boy is already testing out a key Presidential primary state instead of focusing on the voters he’s asking to elect him," said Crist spokeswoman Amanda Hennenberg in a statement e-mailed to reporters. (Rubio was featured on the cover of the New York Times magazine earlier this year.)
"It’s disappointing that Speaker Rubio’s new found fame would lead him to so quickly forget Floridians. Slowly but surely, we are seeing more of who the real Marco Rubio is – someone who routinely puts politics and political aspirations (and in this case South Carolina) above the people."