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Ted Cruz-Marco Rubio Feud Flares Up as Iowa Caucuses Draw Near

Ted Cruz makes a point as Marco Rubio listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

By  | TheBlaze

The Blaze editor’s note: Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) — As if hearing Marco Rubio’s footsteps creeping up on him, Ted Cruz directed much of his final advertising against the Florida senator in the frenzied weekend prelude to the Iowa caucuses, feeding a Republican feud that turned increasingly bitter before voters have their first say in the 2016 presidential race.

Considered to be vying with frontrunner Donald Trump for Iowa victory Monday, Cruz denounced the next in line, according to polls, sharply challenging Rubio’s conservative credentials on the airwaves while ignoring him face to face with Iowans. One ad said darkly of Rubio: “Tax hikes. Amnesty. The Republican Obama.”

“The desperation kicks in,” Rubio said in response to Cruz. “From my experience, when people start attacking you it’s because you’re doing something right.”

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders implored Iowa supporters Saturday to get on their feet in two days and convert their monthslong infatuation with his upstart campaign against Hillary Clinton into actual votes. That call to action was echoed by Democratic and Republican hopefuls alike as they worked to motivate Iowans to attend the caucuses.

Trump, the showman of the Republican race and its frontrunner, made a dramatic entrance to a Dubuque rally as his jet flew low over a hangar half-filled by the waiting crowd and music played from the movie “Air Force One.” There was more drama inside, as a small group of protesters interrupted him and Trump joined the crowd in chanting “USA” to drown out the discord.

He asked security to “get them out” but “don’t hurt them.”

Iowa offers only a small contingent of the delegates who will determine the nominees, but the game of expectations counts for far more than the electoral math in the state. Campaigns worked aggressively to set those expectations in their favor (meaning, lower them) for Iowa, next-up New Hampshire and beyond.

Asked whether Rubio could win or come second, his senior strategist Todd Harris laughingly responded with an obscenity and said the goal in Iowa is third, behind the flamboyant Trump and the highly organized Cruz.

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