By Zach Barnett
“And that’s what ISIS intends to do. This group is an apoplectic group. They believe there is going to be a showdown in a city named Dabiq – not Dubuque – Dabiq.”
In a final push for the Republican presidential nomination in Iowa, Senator Marco Rubio shifted towards a more pressing approach of rhetoric and campaigning the first week of January.
At a rescheduled November town hall at Fischer Community College in Marshalltown, Rubio garnered routine applause before a crowd of 150 people.
The mostly middle-aged, white crowd nodded their heads in agreement as the U.S. first-term senator made routine jabs at the president.
“In 2008, we unfortunately elected someone who wasn’t interested in fixing the problems in America. We elected as President someone who wanted to radically change America,” Rubio said. “We have a president who views America not as the greatest nation or greatest power on earth but as an arrogant global power.”
Rubio, in third place behind Trump and Cruz for the GOP nomination, also began an all out air strike against other GOP candidates with a full arsenal of strong conservative principles.
In 2015, we witnessed a growing radical power in the Middle East that has been slowly expanding throughout the world. It’s a reality that needs to be faced.
Our national conservative culture has adopted foreign policy as an imperative concern to be addressed and the Republican party looks to Rubio and Cruz for answers.
Cruz believes we should not take down President Bashar Assad of Syria. He fears that taking out another dictator in the Middle East will be a flashback to the region after America removed Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi.
Rather, Cruz states that if elected president, “we will utterly destroy ISIS.”
Mocking Senator Cruz, Rubio said, “You hear these candidates saying we are going to carpet bomb ISIS. We are going to make the sand in the Middle East glow in the dark. With what? If you don’t have an air force and you don’t have bombs you can’t make anything glow in the dark.”
Rubio expresses his plans to reconstruct our military back to full force, instead of relying on dropped bombs and retreating. “The world is growing more dangerous, and we are weakening our military,” Rubio said. “We are going to capture them alive and give them a one way ticket to Guantanamo, Cuba and find out everything they know.”
Bob Dole, former senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee, suggested he might oversleep on voting day rather than vote for Cruz, if he wins the Republican nomination. In an interview with ABC, Dole stated he likes most of the candidates, “except Cruz.”
Since Cruz is dominating the potential evangelical vote, Rubio released a new TV ad titled “Faith” to compete with Cruz’s growing religious support. Additionally, Rubio’s campaign has formed “Marco Rubio’s Liberty Advisory Board” to help the senator seek guidance on the further protection of American’s religious liberty.
Carson also attracted some of the faithful Iowans; however, his campaign has become catastrophic, and his poll numbers are a direct reflection of the decreasing amount of relevance he has left in Iowa.
If Cruz wins the evangelical vote, Rubio must remain more moderate in order to beat Cruz on February 1st and secure the non-white votes in the general election, which account for 28-30% of the electorate.
In Marshalltown, Rubio was quick to point out that “America has stood as an inspiration to the world and a place where millions of people, including my parents, came in search for a better life.”
Rubio supports immigration reform – hoping to sway undecided voters away from the highly conservative.
The business mogul and Texas senator are known for angry, harsh rhetoric, appealing to a vocal GOP electorate mostly comprised of white males.
Cruz has said no to any form of immigration, legal or illegal, pushing his stance further to the right.
Trump continues to have thousands turn out for his rallies, or circuses, throughout the country and calls for immediate mass deportations of the 11 million people living illegally in the United States if elected president.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 44% of The Sunshine State consists of minorities, and Rubio has a 57% approval rating in Florida, during his senatorial term.
His approval rating in Florida, which is a large swing state Rubio should win, illustrates he could be the candidate the GOP and minorities can rally behind.
In 2012, Obama carried 81% of the non-white voters, and their numbers are projected to grow by 2% by the end of 2016.
Immigration is a sensitive issue. Unless Rubio wants to be painted with the same brush as Trump and Cruz, he needs to remain in the middle of the political spectrum or risk losing the Latino voter base to the Democratic nominee in the general election.
Rubio fits the national narrative for GOP candidates. He’s an aligned center-right, young father and Cuban-American senator that looks to be the best candidate for the Republican nomination.
Rubio has the potential to do well in Iowa if he can steal evangelical votes from Cruz and the Trump supporters decide not to caucus on a wintery, February morning.
Trump is a mirror reflection of Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor, who lost the 2008 nomination to Senator John McCain. Giuliani soared early in the polls then fizzled out after not winning a single primary or caucus.
Pointing out similarities between Trump and the 2008 Giulani, Tom McCarthy with theguardian states that Trump “also happens to be thrice-married, formally pro-choice, kind of rude person from New York.”
Trump parades around the states, boasting his opinions without any real substance, which keeps fact checkers employed. He is inexperienced as a public servant or an elected official in any capacity.
If Rubio finishes on top in the winnowing process in Iowa, he will have another chance at retail politics to schmooze the New Hampshirites, where he trails Trump and has a narrow lead over Cruz and Christie.
Scott McKnabb, International Education professor at University of Iowa, believes that, unless the Republicans in Iowa and across the country unite behind a single candidate, Hillary Clinton will win by default.
Republicans don’t have a true establishment candidate yet, so Rubio needs to appeal to the establishment republicans, the moderates, and those highly conservative.
Critics might say Rubio does not have the executive experience to be the commander in chief, but experience doesn’t appear to matter in this election.
Trump, never serving in any public service role, tops the latest national CNN poll at 39% followed by Cruz at 18% and Rubio at 10%.
The past and current governors in the race do not even reach the double digits; Governor’s Christie, Bush, Paul, Kasich, Huckabee, and Santorum all remain below 5%.
In the last 8 presidencies, 4 (Clinton, George W. Bush, Reagan, and Carter) were governors preceding their White House wins, 3 (George H. W. Bush, Nixon, and Ford) were vice-presidents, and Obama was a first-term senator.
This Republican election cycle has been bizarre; however, the junior senator, full of tenacity and vigor, has a chance to win. In order to do this, he needs to remain moderate and hit a hot streak, win several swing states and put the GOP back in the White House.