Cruz has evangelicals locked up -- and Rubio is betting everything that it won't matter

“Rubio does not speak their language as well, and he’s just a more reserved guy,” says a top Washington, D.C.–based Republican strategist who identifies as Evangelical. “Cruz knows how to talk about his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how it changed his life. He knows that when he’s visiting a phone bank and there are 12 or 15 people there, to stop and do a prayer circle. That’s the kind of thing that Marco Rubio and most other guys won’t do.”…

At the Iowa event organized by Lane, Rubio was pressed on his relationship with the New York hedge-fund billionaire and Republican mega-donor Paul Singer, who is a supporter of gay marriage and has endorsed Rubio. “I asked him this, ‘What is it that Paul Singer saw in you that he didn’t see in any other candidate?’” says Pastor Michael Demastus of Iowa’s Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, who is backing Cruz. “Because a guy like him has done everything he can to see that same-sex marriage becomes law. Of course Rubio’s response was, ‘He’s buying into my agenda, I’m not buying into his,’ but of course an endorsement like that gives me pause.”

Rubio’s campaign does not hinge on winning Evangelicals in Iowa, South Carolina, or elsewhere; if the Cruz camp has focused laser-like on those voters, Rubio’s team believes that its strategy — giving roughly equal attention to all segments of the GOP and, according to Rubio’s director of faith outreach, Eric Teetsel, “making the same case to every voter” — is more durable and thatB in the long run, even the party’s most religious voters simply want to know that their nominee is a God-fearing man who sees the presidency as a higher calling. “Christian voters in particular are glad to know that Senator Rubio’s leadership on these issues stems from a biblical worldview and that he relies on prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” says Teetsel.