SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem crossed over from South Dakota to boost fellow Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio in a Northwest Iowa event that drew 600 people Saturday evening.
"The reason I am standing in front of you is because I trust Marco Rubio ... It is gonna get better if Marco Rubio becomes president," Noem said at Dordt College in Sioux Center.
That town is in Sioux County, a Republican stronghold in Iowa and nationally. Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, was seeking supporters in the final run-up to the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, which are the first contest in the presidential nominating process.
Another lawmaker, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., was at the event to encourage people to caucus for Rubio. Gardner cited going past nearby Paullina, Iowa, which was where his great-grandparents lived 100 years ago before moving to Colorado. Gardner said Rubio "will get government out of the way and let America work."
When Rubio had his chance to speak, for nearly one hour, he frequently peppered his comments with mentions of his Christian faith and how that would inform his decisions as president. He spoke against abortion and divorce, saying whole families who bond and grow together form the best bedrock for America.
Rubio said the American culture has become too coarse with films, music and television. He said Democratic President Barack Obama has been undercutting religious liberties.
"Religious liberty is not the right to believe whatever you want; that is part of it. Religious liberty is the right to live your faith, in every aspect of your life, to never be forced by government to violate your conscience," Rubio said.
Duane Postma, of Sioux Center, said he agreed that Rubio's Christian faith will be a boon for a president.
"I am leaning toward Marco Rubio, I am encouraged by his energy and how often he mentions his faith," Postma said.
Jane Westphal, of Le Mars, Iowa, said she was impressed seeing Rubio in person, as she decides which candidate to support.
"I like his Christian views. I like his views on abortion, faith and family," Westphal said.
Rubio has consistently placed third among the 12 Republican candidates in recent Iowa polls, behind businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He had planned to stop earlier Saturday in Spencer, Iowa, but his campaign said bad weather prevented his attendance, following a morning stop in Johnston, Iowa. Noem and Gardner met with people in Spencer, without Rubio taking part.
In Sioux Center, Rubio also said he would appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who hew to original constitutional intent, such as how he said Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have done. He added he will have a tough foreign policy that will defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.
"We are gonna have a real war on terror," Rubio said.
Rubio did not mention any of the other Republican candidates by name. He said the field is deep and varied, so presumably a vice president and Cabinet members are among his fellow candidates.
Rubio will return to the Iowa campaign trail with five events on Monday, exactly two weeks to Caucus Day.