Sen. Marco Rubio “fully supports” the New Hampshire Primary and was not downplaying its importance in comparison to first-caucus state Iowa in comments published today in the Des Moines Register, his top New Hampshire advisor says.
In an interview with the Register explaining why he will be unable to attend an event in Iowa this weekend, the Florida Republican emphasized the importance of winning the Iowa caucus.
“If I run for president, my intention is to win Iowa, to do whatever it takes to spend as much time and energy there as is necessary to be a winner,” he said in the Register interview. “We haven’t made that final decision yet, but if we do Iowa can expect to see me early and often.”
According to the story, Rubio was then asked: “Moreso than New Hampshire?”
“Well, you have to get to both,” he responded. “That’s the challenge of running for president, but Iowa’s first and we intend to give it that importance.”
Read the full story here.
Did the comment mean Rubio will place more importance on Iowa than New Hampshire?
Not at all, said Rubio’s top New Hampshire advisor, Jim Merrill.
“Marco Rubio fully supports our First in the Nation presidential primary, through his words and actions, holding a traditional New Hampshire town hall meeting in Hollis as his first public event here in 2015, where he fielded over a dozen questions from local residents,” Merrill said.
“Should Senator Rubio become a candidate, I expect he will campaign here vigorously, sharing his optimistic vision for a new American century with New Hampshire voters at town hall meetings, on doorsteps, and in diners, living rooms, businesses and parades, in a manner embracing our state’s cherished primary and traditions,” said Merrill. “Senator Rubio is going to compete to win in every state, including New Hampshire.”
Last week, when Rubio was in New Hampshire, Politico reported that New Hampshire “will be central to his strategy.”
According to the report, Rubio told several people in one-on-one conversations following his Hollis town hall, “We plan to be back a lot more.”
Merrill told Politico there will be many more town hall meetings, in which Rubio will “exhaust the room” by taking every question. Merrill also said to expect a lot of “straight talk” in the tradition of Sen. John McCain, who twice won New Hampshire primaries.
Candidates who might hypothetically consider placing more importance on Iowa than the Granite State, he or she would do so at their own political peril.
Often candidates who have won the Iowa caucuses have seen their fortunes fade in the nation’s first primary. Mike Huckabee, for instance, won the Iowa caucus in 2008 but finished third in the New Hampshire Primary behind McCain and Mitt Romney.
McCain that year chose not to campaign heavily in Iowa and finished fourth there, but his New Hampshire victory propelled him to the nomination.
Another example is 1988, when former Richard Gephardt won the Iowa caucus and Michael Dukakis finished third. Dukakis then won New Hampshire and went on to the Democratic presidential nomination. That same year, Bob Dole won Iowa and George H.W. Bush finished third. But Bush won New Hampshire and went on to the nomination.
On the other hand, there have been times in which candidates have won Iowa and lost New Hampshire and yet went on to secure their party’s nominations – Barack Obama in 2008 being the most recent, but also George W. Bush in 2000 and Dole in 1996.