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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

#Marcomentum or hype? Either way, Marco Rubio had a very good day in Iowa

Marco Rubio in Ames, Iowa

Alex Leary | Times

Marco Rubio in Ames, Iowa



AMES, Iowa – It was a very good Saturday for Marco Rubio, perhaps his best day of the election, enjoying big crowds across Iowa and successfully selling his generational call for change.

“Anger is not a plan. Anger is not a solution,” the 44-year-old Floridian told a packed crowd on the campus of Iowa State University here, referring to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in all but name.

In Ames, Rubio charged that Barack Obama was bent on “changing America” and denounced Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – even Charlie Crist, whom Rubio has used as a vehicle to suggest he’s an anti-establishment candidate.

He radiated confidence, offering himself as the strongest Republican to defeat Democrats. He said he’d be back in September, “when I’m our nominee.”

Kristian Dugger, an optometrist, said he was 90 percent sure he'd caucus for Rubio over Cruz. "He's humble yet he's very assertive. He's confident but he's not insulting people. He just comes across as someone who would lead well."

A dose of reality would soon arrive.

The Des Moines Register poll showed Rubio stuck in third, having lost some ground despite constant campaign spin of #Marcomentum.

Still, Rubio remains the second choice of the mainstream Republicans. If he can pull in supporters of Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie – all polling at a dismal 3 percent or less – Rubio could leave Iowa in good shape.

Rubio finished the day in suburban Des Moines before a boisterous crowd of more than 1,000. Sen. Chuck Grassley showed up.

"The moment has arrived for this generation to do its part,” Rubio said.

[Last modified: Sunday, January 31, 2016 9:56am]


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