The Iowa caucuses are now 47 days away and many presidential candidates are descending on the state that kicks off presidential elections. Following last night’s Republican debate in Nevada, Marco Rubio held his first campaign stop in suburban Des Moines where he continued to go after fellow candidate and Senator Ted Cruz.
The debate last night was a chance for candidates to remind Americans Donald Trump is NOT the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination.
Some of the sharpest back-and-forth moments came from Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
They fought over their records on national security.
When Rubio took the stage at a hotel conference room in Ankeny, much like Tuesday night, he focused on defeating the so-called Islamic State or ISIS.
“By the way this is not just a terrorist group, this is an apocalyptic group,” Rubio says. He drew a contrast with Cruz who recently said in Iowa he’d carpet bomb the Islamic State into oblivion.
“Everyone on that stage talks tough. It’s easy to stand here … this morning and say we’re going to utterly destroy ISIS. We’re going to blow them up. We’re going to make the sand glow. That’s easy to say," Rubio says. "What are you going to do with? You need to have the capability to do it with.”
Rubio and Cruz are seen as the potential candidates to replace Trump at the top of the polls. In Iowa, Cruz is leading in the latest Iowa poll – conducted by respected pollster Ann Selzer and published in the Des Moines Register.
Rubio did not just focus on national security this morning.
“You will have a president who believes in the power of the free enterprise system to lift everyone up without tearing anyone down," Rubio says. "I love free enterprise because it’s the only economic model in the world where we can make poor people richer without making rich people poor.”
Rubio did not take questions after his 20-minute speech.
“I had hoped he’d be a VP pick for Romney, so yeah, I’ve supported Marco for a long time,” says Grimes resident Jill Capps, who stood at the front of the crowd with her 15-year-old son who got out of school to see the speech.
Capps says there are some in the Republican field that she could just not support.
“There’s some that could not – definitely not an isolationist supporter so that eliminates a few," Capps says. "I think the others I would support potentially just don’t have it for this round. So I really don’t have a second person. Marco is who I think deserves to be president.”
For his part, Justin Trier, a pre-med student at Grand View University in Des Moines, says he’s trying to decide between Rubio and Cruz who he’ll support on caucus night.
“They bring a lot of good ideas to the table," Trier says. "However I was siding a lot with Rubio on quite a few of the issues.’
Meanwhile, Rubio’s Iowa chair State Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny, says they’re not concerned at where Rubio is polling.
“From day one we haven’t worried about polling we’re just worried about doing the basic things of running a good caucus campaign in Iowa and we’re just going to stick to our plan," Whitver says.
Rubio be back in the state tomorrow with meet and greet events in Muscatine and Knoxville.