Team Rubio Shoots Down Talk of Second Place Iowa Finish Afte
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared Friday that he had clear momentum in the final days before the Iowa caucus, citing as evidence a decision by his chief rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to shift negative ad spending away from Donald Trump to attack him.
#8220Obviously they must be concerned about something,#8221 Rubio said of the Cruz campaign at a stop along the Mississippi river in Muscatine. #8220You donrsquot spend money against a candidate if yoursquore not concerned about them.#8221
But Rubio#8217s top aides also fiercely denied that a good debate performance Thursday, and the new concern from Cruz, could give the Florida senator a shot at second place in the Iowa caucuses, behind Cruz or Trump. #8220There is no question we are feeling some wind at our back,#8221 said Todd Harris, Rubio#8217s political strategist. #8220And therersquos no question that we had a great debate night, but itrsquos very hard to compete with the greatest show on earth and the greatest ground game in Iowa history. And so we feel very confident that what we need to do here is finish a strong third.#8221
Read more: Cruz Finds Himself in Crosshairs as Trump Skips Republican Debate
Asked directly if Rubio might finish in first or second place, Harris jokingly told the reporter to buzz off, though he used a different, unprintable word. Then Harris suggested how the reporter might write his comment in an article. #8220Asked whether second or first was in the cards, Rubio strategist Todd Harris said, and Irsquom quoting, f#8212 off,#8221 Harris said.
The Rubio team, who is feeling good about its momentum in Iowa, does not want to raise expectations that might reduce the bounce a third place finish gives Rubio as the campaign shifts to New Hampshire next week.
Rubio, meanwhile, responded to the news of Cruz#8217s new attack ads with a blistering counter assault on on his rival, accusing the Texas senator of a #8220history of calculation#8221 rather than a pattern of being consistently conservative.
#8220Obviously Senator Cruz is worried about my candidacy,#8221 Rubio continued, before launching into an attack on his fellow freshman senator. #8220And he has a lot to answer for. Just today you saw wersquore showing people a tweet that he put out during the immigration debate where he talked about how he supported legalization. So I think people are starting to learn the truth about Ted on immigration and a bunch of other issues, and it shows a history of calculation and I think itrsquos starting to hurt him a little bit.#8221
Recent polls show Rubio approaching 20 percent in surveys of likely Iowa caucus-goers, just points behind Cruz and Trump, who are battling it out for first place. #8220Wersquoll see what it all turns into but, man, itrsquos par for the course,#8221 Rubio added.