DES MOINES, Iowa -- When asked which GOP presidential candidate could pose the greatest threat to their nominee in the 2016 general election, Iowa Democrats at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner this past weekend named Florida Sen. Marco Rubio the most.
The Florida senator was not, however, the only threat identified by Democrats at the annual fundraising event. They also noted a wide range of candidates, from real estate mogul Donald Trump to even former New York Gov. George Pataki.
"Marco Rubio is the biggest threat if he is nominated," said Jim Lindberg of Des Moines, who is supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary. "He's good-looking, he's slick, and I think he's very deceptive."
Schuyler Snackenberg of Keota, who is supporting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, predicted that the GOP would ultimately choose Rubio.
"He's an experienced politician, and once we get past the primary season and the extreme comments on both sides, I think Rubio is going to rise to the top," Snackenberg said.
Other Iowa Democrats suggested that Trump could be the biggest threat come November, despite his recent slump in Iowa polls.
"I would have never believed it, but I think that Trump is going to be a difficult person to beat at this point," said Amy Cantazaro of Des Moines. "People seem to ignore his chaos and continue to support him."
Lara Rodriguez of Davenport said she thinks Trump has the "staying power" to make it through the Republican primary and beyond.
"He's got a lot of supporters, he's got a lot of momentum," Rodriguez explained. "People who don't understand politics really like him."
Iowa Democrats also pointed to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich as candidates who could pose a potential threat to the Democratic nominee. Surprisingly, Carson was not mentioned as often as Rubio or Trump despite a recent Monmouth University poll that shows him ahead of Trump by double digits in Iowa's Republican caucuses.
"Ben Carson seems to be doing well in the polls," said Emma Schmit of Rockwell City. "Ben Carson is more serious and appeals to, you know, not the crazies of the Republican Party."
Jane McCormick of West Des Moines said she still believes Bush could be a major threat and predicts that he could make a comeback.
McCormick noted Bush's "experience and the fact that Iowa does look at those values when they make decisions for the caucuses."
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