Des Moines, Iowa — As Rich noted, nobody here in Iowa is certain of anything. But there are murmurs among the campaigns and political analysts about which way the candidates are trending, which seems to be this: Cruz down, Rubio up. One Iowa Republican official even suggested to me it may be enough for Rubio to catch Cruz: “You gotta watch Field of Dreams when you cover Iowa,” he told me. But the vast majority believe that’s unlikely.
Regardless, it’s evident Cruz is worried about his closest competitors, both Rubio and Donald Trump. He’s changed his stump speech — a set of 15-minute remarks so consistent that most reporters have committed them to memory — to include, at the top, a pointed attack on Trump, and at the bottom, a broadside against Rubio.
Before yesterday’s debate, his campaign released an attack ad here against the Florida senator. According to the New York Times, which broke the news — the ad was not released to the press — the ad shows images of Rubio standing alongside the Senate colleagues with whom he sponsored the Gang of Eight bill as Rush Limbaugh explains that Rubio pushed the bill while Cruz didn’t. The on-screen message: “Rubio betrayed our trust.”
Two weeks ago, the Cruz campaign was saying this was a two-man race between Cruz and Trump. But the last-minute ad buy reflects an awareness among the Cruz crew that it doesn’t just need to beat Donald Trump — it needs to fend off a Rubio surge, too, and in Iowa of all places.