Marco Rubio's Iowa problem

Marco Rubio's Iowa problem
Sen. Marco Rubio's Office
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 5:26pm

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Does Marco Rubio have an Iowa problem?

If Sam Clovis is any barometer, the answer is an unmitigated yes.

Clovis is a mustachioed, suspenders-wearing college professor from Sioux City who's running for Senate in Iowa, as a Republican. He's not the favorite to win the nomination, but he's no slouch either.

He also happens to be a popular conservative talk radio host who speaks the language of grassroots Republicans and has a keen sense of what motivates them.

So the fact that Clovis posted a low-budget web video Wednesday trashing Rubio for his work on the Senate immigration reform bill is an ominous sign for the Florida senator and would-be presidential candidate.

Despite recent hand-wringing about the flawed nature of the Iowa caucuses, the state is all but assured to keep its leadoff position in the 2016 nomination process. If Rubio runs, he'll have to make nice with Iowa conservatives. They just might not be nice to him.

"I might have expected this out of John McCain," Clovis says of the immigration bill. "But we certainly didn't expect this out of Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio was elected by conservatives in the state of Florida and he was supported by conservatives all over the United States. And there is nothing conservative in this bill."

Like any self-styled member of the tea party movement, Clovis labels the bill "amnesty," says it fails to adequately secure the border with Mexico and claims it will impose a heavy financial burden on state and local governments.

Clovis punctuates the video with a straightforward admonition: "Shame on Marco Rubio."

Bottom line: If midterm Republican candidates in Iowa think they can score points with conservative voters by attacking Rubio and tying him to President Obama and reborn pragmatist John McCain, Rubio's got some critical repair work to do on the right.

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