MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Marco Rubio plans to deploy "truth squads" in the three earliest voting states to mitigate the effects of recent attacks against him.
"These prominent local leaders who support Marco's conservative vision for this country will be helping to set the record straight in their communities," the campaign wrote in a press release Monday, noting that "millions will be spent on false attacks against Marco."
In New Hampshire, Rubio is battling with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for second place in state-level polls. The two establishment-friendly candidates sparred during the sixth GOP primary debate last week, and have since been going at it on the campaign trail. Christie told a crowd in Iowa Monday he's fond of the Florida senator, but worries about nominating a candidate with the same level of experience that then-Sen. Barack Obama had in 2008.
"We certainly don't need to send a first-term senator again to the Oval Office, do we?" he said. "We need someone who's ready on the first day to sit in that chair and not spin around and say, 'Gee whiz, isn't it cool I'm president?'"
The attacks directed at Rubio come from "an establishment worried about a new generation of leadership in Washington," according to the senator's top campaign adviser Joe Pounder.
In New Hampshire, Rubio's truth squad includes State Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, Drew Cline, the former editorial director of the New Hampshire Union Leader, and Nashua's former mayoral candidate, Chris Williams. Birdsell has backed Rubio since May, long before he announced his bid for the White House, while Cline and Williams publicly endorsed the junior senator shortly before the New Year.
Rubio's truth squads in Iowa and South Carolina also include three to four of his strongest backers.