Countdown to February: How Rubio and Cruz Are Shaping the GOP Contest

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz weren't the only candidates in Iowa this weekend, but they might as well have been.

Beginning with their Friday night appearances here at the Family Leader Forum -- an audition of sorts before the influential Christian conservative group and its leader, Bob Vander Plaats -- the outline of their looming showdown began to take shape. And Iowa Republicans, including the 2,000 people in attendance at the event, began taking a much closer look at a rivalry that could determine the outcome of the Feb. 1 caucuses. At the outset of a five-day Rubio swing across Iowa, his longest yet, the two Cuban-American, first-term senators weren't on equal footing: Rubio hasn't spent nearly as much time in the state as Cruz. There’s also a perception that the Rubio campaign’s organization isn’t up to snuff – or at least by comparison to the Texas senator’s robust network of support. According to the most recent Iowa poll, Cruz has surged to second place here, behind only Donald Trump and with roughly twice as much support as Rubio, who now occupies fourth place.


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