Marco Rubio Looks to Make a Splash in Iowa

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Sen. Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is starting to focus on Iowa as he looks ahead to possibly making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. 

Rubio was in Iowa this past weekend where he met with leading Republicans in Hardin County, smack dab in the middle of the state. As Republicans look to flip the Senate in November, Rubio continues to go to bat for Joni Ernst against Democrat Bruce Braley. No doubt about it, Rubio is starting to look hard at Iowa as he ponders 2016.

Ernst has been able to count on Rubio’s support in recent months. Even before she won the primary, Rubio threw his weight behind her -- a bit of a risk since she faced a competitive primary. Other possible Republican presidential candidates, like defending Iowa caucus champ Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, got behind other candidates.  

But Iowa isn’t exactly natural territory for Rubio. Religious and social conservatives remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to shaping Republican contests. Rubio has been getting his conservative credentials in order lately, speaking out against abortion and in defense of traditional marriage at Catholic University last month. But, with his support of immigration reform, Rubio doesn’t seem as natural a fit for Iowa as some of the other candidates.  

In recent years, Iowa has upended GOP presidential front-runners. Last time out, thanks to his laser-like focus and meeting voters across the state, Santorum edged Mitt Romney in a major shocker. Back in 2008, Mike Huckabee upset Romney to win the Iowa caucus. Even in 2000, while George W. Bush won, Steve Forbes took 31 percent, and almost a quarter of caucus voters backed the likes of Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer. Before that, Pat Buchanan took a major bite out of Bob Dole in 1996 and Pat Robertson even beat out George H.W. Bush for second place in 1988.

That’s not exactly comforting history for Rubio who will be outflanked on the right by some of his Republican rivals come 2016. But Rubio has one thing going for him. In 2010, when he caught Charlie Crist in the Senate primary and eventually drove him out of the GOP, Rubio showed he could work the Republican grassroots with the best of them. It’s something that could pay dividends for him in Iowa come 2016. Politicians ranging from Santorum to Jimmy Carter started a grassroots fire in Iowa. Rubio would be advised to try something similar if he decides to run.

Rubio’s not the only potential presidential candidate thinking hard about Iowa. Perry, for example, continues to work the state and he’s getting much better reviews this time around than he did back in his last-minute and sometimes disastrous 2012 bid.

Iowa’s probably not as friendly ground for Rubio as other early primary states like, obviously, Florida, South Carolina and even New Hampshire. But he can’t afford to have a poor showing there. As George H.W. Bush and Mike Dukakis showed in 1988, a bronze medal in Iowa doesn’t kill off candidates so far from home. Rubio might be looking only to survive in Iowa and the work he is doing now out there could pay off in the long haul.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (5)

4:56AM AUG 11TH 2014
VIVA RUBIO 2016!!! Rubio is the only Republican that can best Hillary or any other Democrat in 2016!
Rubio should have been indicted along with the rest of them
4:06PM AUG 4TH 2014
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's unsettling history of extremely close ties to private prison operator Geo Group and the possible federal investigation into Florida's private prison giveaway of more than $120 million.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was sworn in on January 5, 2011 with unfinished business back home.

Rubio, as former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (R-Miami, 2006-2008) -- as well as other state GOP lawmakers and party contributors -- have been the subjects of multiple wide-ranging state and federal investigations conducted by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) into improper use of credit cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida, as well as tax evasion and improper budgetary appropriations.(Note: The state's prosecution of improper use of Florida Republican Party credit cards eventually focused on former party chairman Jim Greer. While evidence suggested that improper use of these cards may have been made by Rubio, former state representative Ray Sansom and former Rubio/Sansom staffer Melanie Phister, none of these parties were indicted.)

One such set of appropriations/legislative actions reportedly investigated by federal authorities are those which led to the development of the state's largest private prison, the Blackwater River Correctional Facility (CF), which opened its gates for operation in November, 2010. The prison was designed and is operated by Florida-based Geo Group, the nation's second largest private prison operator.

Investigations into members of the Florida Republican Party, as well into party donors, have resulted in multiple indictments. And, on November 2, 2010 -- election day -- federal investigators subpoenaed the party's financial records.

Ray Sansom was indicted then unindicted and today is VP of the Rader Group - A charter school scheme with Jeb Bush's buddie Billie Rader.

But old Jim Greer. well they threw his under the bus then cut him a deal to take the fall while they took care of his family.

Yep! I agree with you Mark - Iowa would make Rubio a good home state.

After all Castro run all the Cuban mobsters our of Cuba including their boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. in 1959 - the Cuban mobsters have been operatiing from Miami and Tampa ever since. It was Trafficante who financed Jeb's Medicare scheme partner Miguel Recary in IMC, then when he fled the US Jeb pulled Rick Scott from Texas to run their Medicare fraud scheme. Now he's got him "ruing the state of Florida for him and his Cubam Mobsters. One of which Jeb and Rick have just one heart beat away from governor of Florida right now!
4:55AM AUG 11TH 2014
8:15AM AUG 4TH 2014
Marko Rubio never said he was running for President. He did say he was very happy being Senator. Until Mr. Rubio says his hat is in the ring then get off his case. He is doing an excellent job where he is now. If he was elected as our President the left would be kicking him from every angle and who wants that.
6:53AM AUG 4TH 2014
Good to see Rubio is in Iowa, a very nice state! Hopefully, he and his family have picked out a new home and will be moving there shortly!

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