Rubio: Cruz ‘Front-Runner’ in Iowa; Looking Ahead to New Hampshire

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) attempted to lower expectations for his campaign in the Iowa caucus tomorrow by pointing to his opponent Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) ground game in saying, “Ted Cruz is clearly the front-runner going into tomorrow night. He has 10,000 volunteers on the ground,”

Partial transcript as follows:

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Senator, there is a lot of chatter that you may be getting a lot of the last-minute votes going your way. How does it feel?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we have always felt great about our campaign here. And we continue to feel that it is growing in our support. We will see what it leads to on Monday night. I mean, Ted Cruz is clearly the front-runner going into the night. He has 10,000 volunteers on the ground. He has spent an exorbitant amount of time here, tremendous amount of time here, and has gotten every endorsement he wanted. So, we know it is a tough hill to climb, but we feel very good about our campaign and very positive about what it means going into New Hampshire. We will be leaving as soon as the caucus is over. And we will be in New Hampshire early Tuesday morning ready to work.

DICKERSON: Sounds like you are setting expectations for your opponent there. He is calling you the Republican Obama. What do you think of that?

RUBIO: Well, other than the fact that I oppose virtually everything Barack Obama stands for. And what’s happened here, it is kind of bizarre, because Ted is leading in a lot of the polls. He has a vast organization here and has spent a lot of money. And his campaign has bragged repeatedly about how well they are going to do here. So it is kind of strange that, at the last minute, they have pivoted all their attacks against me, and disingenuous attacks. They took a video of an interview that I did in 2007 in Florida, and clipped it, so that my full statement wasn’t heard. And it makes it sounds like I support cap and trade. And this has already been lampooned and mocked for years, because others have tried to do the same thing. So, it is kind of a weird and strange last-minute desperation attack. It is not really — I really don’t understand why. He has got such a strong organization here in Iowa. But it is all fine. We are going to be OK. We feel good about it into.

DICKERSON: But maybe it is a good sign he is attacking you. It means you must be doing something right.

RUBIO: Well, we have taken more than anybody else in attacks. Jeb Bush’s super PAC has spent now close to close to $30 million on television, which is more than every attack on every other candidate combined. And then you add Ted Cruz’s attacks. Yes, when — people don’t attack a candidate that has no chance to win. So we feel very good about it. And we feel even better about the fact that it is having no impact, and that we are continuing to work and move forward with our message.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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