Rubio battles Cruz for Iowa edge

“Trump’s out there in the front, but he’s not presidential. He’s not going to make it. So it’s shifting. Ted Cruz has been more available and he has quite a following, especially the younger generation. And he comes here regularly,” said Greg Crawford of Des Moines, who along with his wife Julie listened to seven GOP presidential hopefuls for three hours Friday. “But there is a lot of interest in seeing more of Rubio, because we’ve all seen in the debates how smart he is and how he can be inspiring. Everyone is starting to sense it coming down to those two.”

If Cruz secures Vander Plaats endorsement before the end of the year, he’ll have assembled a formidable roster of Iowa’s Christian conservative influencers, having already won the backing of Congressman Steve King and scores of conservative pastors.

“If you go to my church on Saturday, every car will have a Cruz sticker on it,” said Matt Wells, a Cruz volunteer from Iowa City who attended the Family Leader Forum Friday night. “Marco’s not been in the state that much.”

While Cruz holds the edge with Christian conservatives, Rubio is working diligently to peel some of his support away. Cruz canceled all of his scheduled events Saturday after a night of snow; Rubio, however, stepped onto a stage inside an Oskaloosa coffee shop an hour’s drive away for the first of three events Saturday, part of a tour that will keep him in front of Iowa voters through Tuesday.