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Marco Rubio heads to Iowa to help Senate hopeful

@CAdamsMcClatchy

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and potential 2016 presidential candidate, is lending his conservative cred to a Senate candidate from Iowa who is in the driver’s seat for a competitive primary that could be decided Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon, Rubio is scheduled to join state Sen. Joni Ernst at her campaign headquarters in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale. Ernst, from the tiny southwestern Iowa town of Red Oak, has taken a commanding lead in a five-person Republican primary. A poll released Saturday has her up by 18 points over a big-spending former energy company executive, a former U.S. attorney and a college professor/former conservative radio show host.

Ernst, who made a national name with two catchy and provocative TV ads -- one dealing with hog castration, the other showing her shooting at a firing range -- is widely expected to finish an easy first on Tuesday. But she needs to clear 35 percent to prevent the race from heading to a convention and being decided among party activists.

Given her strong support from the party establishment, Ernst would do well at a convention. Even so, finishing first in the primary has no official impact on the convention, which is decided by the most-dedicated and often most-conservative party activists.

Two other candidates – professor Sam Clovis, who has the backing of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum; and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, who had help last week from Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- have strong followings among conservatives in the state. Ernst does as well: she has received endorsements from both moderate and conservative Republicans, and the recent poll shows Iowa voters perceive her as conservative.

Rubio could help lock down some of those voters, just as former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign stops with Ernst last week could have helped her with moderate Republicans.

The weekend’s poll, from the Des Moines Register, put her at 36 percent -- just above the necessary threshold; 16 percent remained undecided.

--CHRIS ADAMS

Comments

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Bill Thompson

The citizens want their congressional representatives to spend their time working on issues of importance to Floridians and not spending the taxpayers confiscated money and time interfering in the state politics of distant states. The freshman senator from Florida needs to be spending his time learning his job and working on the issues of importance to Florida citizens.

Bill Thompson

This career politician Rubio better start spending his time in Washington DC learning how to do his job and representing the citizens of Florida instead of already looking for his next job and meddling in the politics of distant states.

Bill Thompson

The still green freshman senator Rubio should be focusing on the issues of everyday Florida citizens and not wasting taxpayer confiscated money and time on meddling in the affairs of faraway states for which he is not paid to do. There is no need for him to be pretending to be a presidential candidate and travel to all these states making pretty speeches, because he has no chance of even being considered by voters.

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