His plan was to deny Cruz unbeatable momentum coming out of the caucuses. But now he’s squeezed by Christie and Bush both.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Marco Rubio has ceded much of Iowa’s most conservative region and rural regions, banking instead on an aggressive push in Des Moines and the state’s more urban east to ensure Ted Cruz doesn’t walk away from the caucuses with unbeatable momentum.
While others brag about visiting all 99 of Iowa’s counties (Mike Huckabee hit that target last week as Cruz’s bus tour rolled toward it), Rubio is investing little in the western and rural reaches of the state. His travel schedule, ad buys, and his own advisers point to a strategy almost entirely dependent on a far narrower strip of the state.
But this game plan amounts to a high-stakes geographic bet that Rubio can consolidate the more traditional wing of the GOP in the east, even as he’s squeezed there by an emboldened Chris Christie and an organized Jeb Bush campaign. All the while, Donald Trump and his loud and loyal following threaten to wreak havoc on everyone’s carefully plotted maps.
“You hunt where the ducks are,” said Eric Woolsen, a longtime Iowa GOP operative who is currently unaligned. “And if there aren’t many ducks for Marco Rubio in the western part of the state, then he needs to be hunting elsewhere.”
Perhaps nothing reveals Rubio’s Iowa playbook as much as his media-buying strategy.