Update Dec. 29 3 p.m. | Sen. Marco Rubio will get a boost ahead of the Iowa caucuses as Rep. Trey Gowdy will join him to campaign on Tuesday.
Gowdy gained clout with many on the right for his work as chairman of the House Benghazi Committee that investigated the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in the Libyan city as well as Hillary Clinton’s response to it as secretary of state. Gowdy conducted a marathon hearing with Clinton in the hot seat in October.
A Des Moines Register and Bloomberg poll earlier this month showed Rubio in fourth place in Iowa, with Sen. Ted Cruz in the lead, followed by Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Cody Hoefert, co-chairman for the Republican Party of Iowa, praised Gowdy’s efforts regarding Clinton and said the South Carolina congressman is well-respected by activists.
“He asks tough questions,” Hoefert said. “He is seen as a real pit bull for the cause.”
The Tea Party Leadership Fund pushed for Gowdy to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House upon the latter’s resignation.
The Tea Party Leadership Fund had earlier attempted to
as speaker to replace while at the same time attempting to raise money off its efforts. But Gowdy spokeswoman Amanda Duvall said the group’s donation to the congressman was returned as soon as it was discovered.
Trump jumped on Gowdy for campaigning with rival Rubio, retweeting others’ condemnation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Dec. 27, 2015
But Trump gave Gowdy $2,000 in 2014, according to Federal Election Commission documents, Similarly, in February, Right to Rise PAC, Inc., which is affiliated with Rubio’s opponent Jeb Bush, gave $5,200 to Gowdy in committee contributions.
B.J. Jahn, chairman of the Des Moines County Republican Party, said while he liked Gowdy, he takes candidate endorsements “with a grain of salt.”
“I choose candidates based on their own merits,” Jahn said.
The endorsement could help Rubio in the primary in South Carolina, where Gowdy is the state’s most popular Republican politician. Like in Iowa, Rubio is polling a distant fourth in South Carolina, according to a Winthrop University poll from early December, with Trump in the lead, followed by Cruz and Carson.
An ARG poll of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, which votes between Iowa and South Carolina, released on Christmas Day showed Rubio running second to Trump.
Conservative news outlet Townhall.com first reported Gowdy would campaign with the presidential hopeful as part of Rubio’s “Out with the Old, In with the New” tour.