Marco Rubio Places His Bets in Iowa and New Hampshire

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: May 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Sen. Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

Even as Jeb Bush makes more noise about entering the presidential race, Marco Rubio continues to look at running for the Republican nomination in 2016, focusing on early states this week.

After Mitt Romney lost, Rubio appeared to be one of the top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. But Rubio’s stock declined in 2013 as he championed immigration reform, an issue that simply isn’t popular with the tea party or the conservative base. Rubio’s been eclipsed by the likes of Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and other potential primary rivals.

Rubio’s looking to get back in the game. This week, he rolled the dice in Iowa, backing a candidate in the competitive Republican primary to replace Tom Harkin in the Senate. Rubio threw his weight behind Joni Ernst, stressing her conservatism. Ernst faces a crowded field with conservatives backing Sam Clovis and Matt Whitaker while Mark Jacobs is also in the mix, insisting he’s an outsider. Democrat Bruce Braley will be waiting for whichever Republican wins and, even if Ernst goes down, expect Rubio to be campaigning in Iowa come fall. This seat is pretty crucial as Republicans look to flip the Senate from Democrats in November.

But Iowa isn’t exactly Rubio territory. In recent years, conservatives like Mike Huckabee have beaten out the candidates the GOP establishment backed in the Iowa caucus. New Hampshire, the first primary state which went for John McCain and Mitt Romney, seems much more fertile ground for Rubio.

The senator from Florida was getting active in New Hampshire this week. On Friday, Rubio held a fundraiser for Kelly Ayotte in Boston. He has helped out Ayotte before, running commercials for her in 2013, praising her for standing up to gun control efforts, even though she doesn’t face voters until 2016. After the fundraiser, Rubio went to New Hampshire to meet with the media, speak at a fundraiser for the state GOP and attend an event for the Rockingham County Republican Committee. All in all, a busy day for Rubio in New Hampshire.

Even though he had not been to New Hampshire for two years, the state makes sense for Rubio if he sets his sights on the White House. Despite a few hiccups -- Pat Buchanan, anyone? -- New Hampshire generally backs the establishment’s choice in the Republican primaries over the conservative who emerges in Iowa.

Even though immigration has done some damage to Rubio, he might have a bigger challenge facing him as he looks at making a presidential bid. Rubio’s growing more vocal in the Senate and his profile is on the rise. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Voters think Washington is broken and Republicans might not want to go with a senator as their presidential nominee.

This week, reports came out that Beltway Republicans, even those in the Senate, are not thrilled with the idea of senators like Rubio, Paul and Cruz as their candidate in 2016. That means Republicans could be looking for a governor -- Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence -- to be their standard bearer.

Despite it all, as his dabbling in Iowa and New Hampshire shows, Rubio is at least trying to keep himself in the 2016 conversation. If he runs, Rubio will need a breakthrough in one of those two states before the ground gets friendlier in South Carolina and Florida. Look for Rubio to stay busy in Iowa and even back Scott Brown’s uphill bid against Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire’s Senate race. If he’s serious about 2016, Rubio needs to get going in the early states and those two Senate contests offer him a perfect jumping-on point.

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

Comments (9)

9:06AM MAY 12TH 2014
Marco should be running for President of the Flat Earth Society.
7:25AM MAY 12TH 2014
Marco Rubio is going to waste his time and money on his delusional aspirations.

When Marco hit the scene to take out Charlie Crist in the Republican US Senate primary, he went from unknown to celebrity and the Tea Party favorite. Unfortunately, his true colors have surfaced, his only purpose now is winning elections not doing the job he was sent to DC to do.

Rubio's flame went out and he lost the Tea Party, thus he has no chance of anything but perhaps another term in the Senate and for that he will have to fight off a challenge from the right.
a challenge from the right
7:35AM MAY 12TH 2014
Obviously means Rubio like his handler Jeb is not on the right in reality!

In fact anyone who wants open borders and Common Core and Agenda 21 is actually so far to the left they are off the radar screen on the right as well.

So, what are these people who are masquerading as so called conservatives goals who have hijacked the Republican party? And what is their true agenda?

Yes! Rubio fooled the tea baggers - he was younger and cute and little little George Bush he somewhat had that Reagan style. Fool me once I can accept, but fool me twice and it is I who is the fool.

No wonder these people invested so many categories for those who can hear the truth and see there schemes. What they are doing is is a conspiracy that needs no theorist!
Martin Resident
8:18AM MAY 12TH 2014
I resent your "tea baggers" remark. Obviously you haven't a clue. At no time did the The Party support Marco Rubio. Stop watching the mainstream media and educate yourself, my friend. Now tell me who was fooled.
a challenge from the right
10:28AM MAY 12TH 2014
Well Martin resident perhaps you should get your head out of hole yourself. Marco Rubio and his side kick"Jebbie" Bush was supported whole hog at the July 4th 2009 North Lake County Florida Tea bagger gathering -his biggest fan was Patricia Sullivan the North Lake tea baggers chairwomen at the time. She was since politicized! She is a member of the Lake County REC and the local state committee woman.

Absolute proof of these facts can be found to this day on the north lake county tea party website at july4th 2009.

Now martin resident if you want to get into a "sissing" contest bring it own because I have the documents to prove my statements, and none of which come from the so called mainstream media nor the faux news network!
don't worry he'll be properly trained
7:18AM MAY 12TH 2014
Since he is yet another creation of the Bush Dynasty you can bet he will receive his polishing at the Karl rove[r] school of etiquette. they don't call Rove[r] the architect for nothing he took Bush [43], cleaned him up and turned him into the ah shucks image of Ronald Reagan. He presented well, but just like the rest of this dynasty crowd his actions was those of the devil. [Oil wars and missing limbs are proof of that]

I believe I once heard that Rubio's parents migrated here from Cuba and that he ws born to them before they achieved US Citizenship. If this is true he is not of the requirements of a natural born citizen to fill the shoes of the president of the USA to begin with. And, since Obama has never provided a legitimate certificate of birth that would indicate to a prudent person he must have something to hide! Even so, tow wrongs do not make a right! Oh Yea! Jeb Bush will be in that race as well - they always have more than one horse in every race!
7:30AM MAY 12TH 2014
Obviously, citizenship can be faked.
11:57AM MAY 12TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right . . . . has anyone checked yours recently . . . you constantly seem to create some real doubts about the reality of your own . . . . . besides, of course, being just more far right birther nonsense . . . . . and not so subtle blatant racism against both Hispanic-Americans . . . and an African-American President . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
6:20AM MAY 12TH 2014
Rubio has been one of the very worst representatives Florida has had the misfortune to have in Washington D.C. and his arrogance remains unmatched! To think this fellow can actually believe he's ready to run for the highest office in the nation is beyond even my disgust. However, the best thing which may come out of all this would be for him to RESIGN his Washington position, freeing Florida to add someone to Congress who understands its people and issues. While he's building his staff, he should hire someone to teach him how to drink a glass of water while speaking/reading the teleprompter!

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