The new mantra for GOP presidential contenders at the lower end of voter polls is Stop Marco Rubio.
Rubio came in third in the Iowa caucus, just one percentage point behind Donald Trump, who got 24 percent. Ted Cruz won with 28 percent.
The GOP candidates who are setting their sights on bringing Rubio down are those who are seeking the support of so-called establishment Republicans, and are all governors or former governors.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are trying to portray Rubio, 44, as inexperienced and running on style, Politico noted.
The challenge for the governors is to find a different strategy than the one some of the GOP candidates tried using against Rubio leading up to Iowa, but that clearly failed.
In New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Feb. 9, their message to voters will be that Rubio doesn’t genuinely care about them, and they’ll say that one sign of that is that he hasn’t put in the time campaigning in the Granite State that they have, Politico said.
Christie has made 176 campaign stops in New Hampshire, Kasich has made 180, Bush has made 106, and Rubio has made 76.
"I think the voters will expect a certain level of exposure here that they haven't gotten in terms of asking [Rubio] tough questions," Politico quoted a top Christie adviser as saying. Politico did not name the adviser.
“These [Rubio] town halls are very quick; they're in and out,” the adviser is quoted as saying. “He doesn't make a speech. He doesn't really take very many questions. He doesn't do gaggles with reporters. And so that's what the voters here expect. How will he do under that spotlight?”
The day after the Iowa caucus, Christie, who got only 2 percent of the vote, called Rubio “the boy in the bubble” in a press conference.
“Unlike some of these other campaigns, I'm not the boy in the bubble, OK?” Christie said. “We know who the boy in the bubble is up here, who never answers questions, who's constantly scripted and controlled because he can't answer your questions.”
Christie has spent considerable time campaigning in New Hampshire, hoping a strong showing there will keep him in play in the race. He also has landed some important endorsements in New Hampshire from influential Republican activists and political officials.
"Chris has had a tough couple of days," Rubio said to ABC News. "He's not doing very well, and he did very poorly in Iowa. And sometimes when people run into adversity they don't react well and they say things they maybe will later regret."
Bush and Kasich also are portraying Rubio as treating New Hampshire as an afterthought.
"Frankly, right now Marco doesn't have much of a footprint in the state," Politico quoted someone identified only as “a Bush GOP operative working in New Hampshire” as saying. "He didn't invest that much time here as he did in Iowa."
Matt David, strategist for the pro-Kasich super PAC, New Day for America, said Rubio’s scant attention to New Hampshire is one his biggest challenges.
“I'd say historically New Hampshire voters have rewarded candidates who have put in time at town halls and parades and farmers markets,” he told Politico. "And they typically have not supported or have given less support to candidates who have parachuted in to do a quick event and then go to a fundraiser."
New Hampshire polls show Donald Trump leading with 33.7 percent, and Sen. Ted Cruz is behind him with 11.5 percent. As for establishment candidates, Kasich is getting 11.3 percent, Bush 10.5 percent, Rubio 10.2 percent and Christie 5.8 percent.