Marco Rubio’s campaign has hired Gary Marx, a prominent Republican strategist with deep ties to the evangelical world, as his senior adviser for conservative outreach, NRO has learned.
Marx was previously working on behalf of Scott Walker, and became a coveted free agent when the Wisconsin governor unexpectedly ended his campaign in September. Marx was immediately courted by several rival campaigns, but said at the time he would wait to see which candidates were long-term viable before deciding whether to jump back into the race. His decision to join Rubio should boost the senator’s outreach operation — but it comes at a very late stage in the game, with Iowa’s February 1 caucuses less than a month away.
A veteran of multiple White House campaigns, Marx, the president of Madison Strategies, is deeply respected in the social-conservative community. He served as conservative coalitions director on the Romney 2008 campaign, and was the point-man for evangelical outreach on the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign. Marx will join Eric Teetsel, another prominent evangelical who serves as Rubio’s director of faith outreach, in selling the Florida senator to Christian activists both nationally and in the early states.
Rubio’s hiring of Marx represents something of a strategic counterpunch against Ted Cruz, who made evangelical outreach the cornerstone of his campaign and has been vacuuming up endorsements from high-profile Christian conservatives. Both candidates understand the stakes: self-described evangelicals account for more than half of the primary electorate in both Iowa and South Carolina. Cruz, who launched his candidacy at Liberty University, got a head start on Rubio (and the rest of the field) in terms of courting these voters. But Rubio’s team insists they want to peak at the right time — and point to his recent, intensive outreach to Christian activists and organizations, which was missing for much of the campaign. Now, with just weeks until Iowa’s caucuses, he’s hired Marx.
Rubio’s team would say it’s perfect timing; Cruz’s campaign would argue it’s too little, too late. We’ll know soon enough who’s right.