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Rubio Tells Iowa Voters He's The One To Beat A Democrat In November


We are listening to the final pitches from candidates in both parties before Iowans go to caucuses this evening. Our colleagues were busy all weekend at rallies and events. NPR's Susan Davis was in Davenport, Iowa yesterday covering Republican Marco Rubio.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: At his last campaign rally on the eve of tonight's caucuses, Marco Rubio sympathized with voters trying to sort through this crowded Republican presidential field.


MARCO RUBIO: One out of seven Republicans that ran for president this year, that's a lot of people. One out of...


RUBIO: ...I'm exaggerating. It was one out of eight. But it was a lot of Republicans.


DAVIS: There are 11 Republicans competing in Iowa. The Florida senator has tried to distinguish himself from the presidential pack on matters of national security. He's pivoted on immigration, away from talking about the millions of undocumented in the country and towards keeping Americans safe.


RUBIO: That means we will secure our borders. That means if we don't know who you are or why you are coming, you are not getting into the United States.


DAVIS: He also vowed to track down and defeat the Islamic State in the starkest language.


RUBIO: The best military in the world will destroy them. And if we capture any of these terrorists alive, they're not getting a lawyer, and they're not getting their Miranda rights.


DAVIS: And this.


RUBIO: They are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo. And we're going to find out everything they know.


DAVIS: Rubio says the most critical reason Iowans should vote for him is tactical. He says of all the Republicans in the race, he's the most likely to beat a Democrat this November. And Democrats know it.


RUBIO: Because for every Republican they attack once, they attack me five times. There's a reason for that. They know that if I'm our nominee, we will win. If I'm our nominee, I will unite this party and the conservative movement.

DAVIS: Rubio is not favored to win tonight. He's been holding steady at third place in the polls with a chance to move up. He's betting that a top-tier finish here will bring fresh momentum as the race moves on to New Hampshire. Susan Davis, NPR News, Davenport. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.