PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Marco Rubio isn't quite ready to say he's running for president, yet admits it does look like he will seek the White House in 2016.
"I think that's reflected in both our travel and some of the staffing decisions that we've made," the Florida senator told The Associated Press. "We -- if in fact I make that final decision on a run -- want those elements to be in place."
Allies of the first-term senator who have spoken with him about his plans fully expect that he will run for president, rather than a second Senate term.
"I assume he's running," said Wayne Berman, a veteran Republican fundraiser who was chairman of Sen. John McCain's presidential fundraising in 2008. "He will help the party turn the page, politically, to the next generation."
Nearly a dozen people close to Rubio, including Republicans officials, fundraisers and his advisers, say Rubio has told them he is in the final stages of planning the launch of his presidential run and will formally join the crowded field of hopefuls as early as April. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss their private conversations with Rubio.
Berman said he is working to line up donors to finance that national campaign. The goal is to raise $50 million before next year's Iowa caucuses, according to four donors who have spoken to Rubio about the likely campaign's budget.
Rubio's team is also aggressively courting Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney's top fundraiser in the 2012 presidential race. Zwick is sought after by several prospective Republican candidates and has spoken favorably about Rubio's chief rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush was a mentor to Rubio during their time in Florida. The two are likely to compete for many of the same donors, and Rubio acknowledges it would be "a bit unusual" to run against Bush.
No major candidates for president have declared their intentions. Formally entering the race triggers a host of legal and campaign finance complications. But a decision to commit is different for Rubio, whose Senate term runs through 2016. He has said repeatedly he will not run for Senate re-election and the presidential nomination at the same time.
Rubio's advisers have told party leaders that they should expect to recruit a candidate to run for his Senate seat in 2016, according to four people involved in the talks, who discussed the private conversation on the condition of anonymity because Rubio has not notified the National Republican Senatorial Committee of his plans.
Elliott reported from Washington.