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Marco Rubio: Ted Cruz is front-runner, Donald Trump a 'very good entertainer'

Marco Rubio dismissed Republican front-runner Donald Trump as "entertaining" and called Ted Cruz the candidate to defeat in Iowa.
/ Source: TODAY

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio acknowledged he has an “uphill climb” to win the Iowa caucuses Monday, but he dismissed Donald Trump’s presumptive status as front-runner.

Rubio has trailed both Trump and Ted Cruz, whom he described on TODAY as having a “very strong Iowa ground game, so he’s clearly the front-runner.”

Rubio and Cruz have traded barbs for the past several days as they fight for the conservative Republican vote. Rubio said Cruz’s campaign has aired edited campaign footage to twist his words, but said he plans to persevere.

“I think people know the truth,” he said.

RELATED: Front-runner Donald Trump shies away from predicting Iowa win: 'Everybody's a threat'

Rubio also dismissed Trump’s chances of becoming the party nominee, saying American voters will ultimately select someone who takes the White House seriously.

“Obviously the guy is a very good entertainer. He’s an entertaining guy. He’s funny,” he said. “This country understands that if you’re running to be president of the United States, you can’t just tell people what you’re going to do — you have to explain how you’re going to do it.”

The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released over the weekend showed Trump with a five-point lead, 28 percent to 23, over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The poll, conducted from Jan. 26-29, has Rubio in third at 15 percent.