Senator Marco Rubio from Florida chooses his campaign battles carefully, avoiding the interviews and the limelight of the media. This is a strategy to build his reserves for the long-haul and to pull out some wins in the early caucus states next year, before he hits main stage. He will have to face some challenges, one of them his inexperience.

1. Rubio holds policy events unnoticed

2. Still test driving the candidates

via CNN Politics Marco Rubio has avoided the back-and-forth shouting matches with Donald Trump and other fellow Republican presidential nominees. And he hasn’t made a splash with major campaign rallies that fill arenas.

Yet he is now in the top tier of candidates, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.

Rubio has been criss-crossing the country, attending small-bore fundraisers for potential allies in key states and holding policy events that barely register on the national radar. These type of events — aimed at courting allies in early states and locking up big donors — are all part of a strategic effort by Rubio to stay below the radar and avoid the scrutiny that comes with being a front-runner in the race.

In the first two debates, Rubio didn’t deliver a knockout blow, but his steady performance, polished answers about national security and his Cuban roots and lack of verbal gaffes helped his poll standing. While his 11% rating still is far off Trump, who remains in the lead, senior Rubio officials argue they are more than content seeing their candidate sitting quietly in fourth place at this stage of the race.

Rubio, who declined to be interviewed, is publicly at ease with his standing in the polls.

But like others, Graham was quick to warn such a strategy has its limits. “Leadership is engaging when you need to. You don’t need to fight every fight but some of this stuff we need to stand up to.”

It remains to be seen just how long Rubio can stay above the fray and if his standing will drop once the attacks start to sharpen.

“I tell people it’s like shopping for a car,” said Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota., No. 4 in the GOP leadership, referring to the primary contest. “People are taking these candidates out for a test drive, seeing what they like.” Rubio’s campaign hopes voters don’t test out his candidacy until next January. via CNN Politics

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