How Marco Rubio succeeded in Iowa
Keys to Marco Rubio’s success in Iowa:
Not long ago, Rubio was facing steady criticism for not spending enough time on the ground. But he took up full-time residence in the state for the past week and a half, doing town halls and interacting with voters. He had a polished team on the ground, led by state Sen. Jack Whitver, his Iowa chairman.
Rubio played up his faith. “Our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ,” he said in one ad. “The struggle on a daily basis as a Christian is to remind ourselves of this. The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan.” His stump speeches often began with a shout-out to God.
Rubio veered right and adopted a gloomier tone, not to be outdone by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But overall he never dropped his optimistic message. People we talked to at his events said they were drawn to that message. Rubio also portrayed himself as the candidate who could unite the various factions of the GOP and kept a clear focus on Hillary Clinton. “When I’m our nominee …” he often said. The Rubio surge, #Marcomentum as his campaign branded it, set in with the media, helping drive a narrative.
This factor cannot be overstated. Rubio spent at least $12 million on TV ads, more than anyone but Jeb Bush. The money came from Rubio’s came from Rubio’s campaign, super PAC and a dark money group.