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Saturday, January 19, 2019

By Emily Flitter

RINDGE, N.H. (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, emerging from the first Republican nominating contest of the 2016 presidential election as the party’s leading mainstream candidate, faces a strong field of rival establishment figures in next week’s New Hampshire primary.

Rubio, 44, from Florida, came in third at Monday’s Iowa caucuses with 23 percent of the vote, making a stronger-than-expected finish and establishing himself as the alternative to front-runners Ted Cruz, 45, and Donald Trump, 69.

Conservative Cruz won the caucuses with 28 percent, four points ahead of businessman Trump, whose campaign has been marked by such controversies as his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States and a pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Evangelical Christians helped Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, to victory in Iowa, but he might struggle to win on Feb. 9 in New Hampshire where Republican voters have more secular and libertarian streaks.

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said a recent hardening of Rubio’s position on immigration and the strength of his anti-abortion stance might cost him.

“Running to the right to win Iowa is going to be a hard sell here in New Hampshire,” Graham, a supporter of Republican Jeb Bush, told Reuters in Rindge.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio said on Tuesday he was the candidate to unite the Republicans at the Nov. 8 general election, when the party hopes to regain the White House after Democratic President Barack Obama’s two four-year terms.

“People realized on the Republican side that we cannot afford – this country cannot afford – to lose this election, and that I give the party the best chance not just to unify our party but to grow it,” Rubio told ABC’s Good Morning America show from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Rubio, a fluent Spanish speaker, hopes to win back some of the Latino vote the party lost in recent years as it toughened its stance on immigration. A foreign policy hawk, Rubio advocates a tough approach to Iran, the Islamic State militant group and other U.S. foes.

Iowans who supported Rubio at the caucuses said they responded to his relatively positive message and viewed him as the candidate most likely to beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democratic nominee.

Worries about such issues as immigration and terrorism have fueled the campaigns of Trump and Cruz.

“We’ve seen a campaign that’s been characterized by candidates trying to exploit peoples’ fears and anxieties and insecurities about the future. And those candidates ended up doing pretty well last night,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday, speaking about the Republican field.

Concerns about the income gap and economic insecurity have also helped Democratic left-wing candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, 74, who narrowly lost to Clinton, 68, in Iowa.

Sanders’ home state is Vermont, next door to New Hampshire, and that may give him an advantage in next Tuesday’s primary. Clinton’s razor-thin margin was the smallest in Iowa Democratic caucus history.

Clinton acknowledged she had to try harder to win younger Democrats, who backed Sanders in Iowa in large numbers. “I’m going to have some work to do to reach out to young voters, maybe first-time voters, who have to make a tough decision,” she told CNN.

THE ESTABLISHMENT

Moderate Republicans besides Rubio, like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, are expected to do better in New Hampshire than they did in Iowa.

Christie on Tuesday accused Cruz and Rubio of lacking executive experience for the job of president.

“What do they do exactly in the United States Senate? They talk and they talk. They are not responsible for doing anything,” he said. “Marco gives a great speech and so does Ted, but that’s what they do. They make speeches,” Christie said at his campaign’s New Hampshire headquarters in Bedford.

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, took a similar line of attack at a town hall in Rindge, saying that Cruz and Rubio were “gifted in how they speak, but what about their life experiences?”

New Hampshire has a long tradition of bucking trends in presidential primaries.

Rubio might have to tweak his message for the state’s audience, said Wayne Lesperance, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at New England College in New Hampshire.

“I think he will still emphasize a conservative message but a bit less focused on faith matters and more focused on fiscal issues, the border, and gun control. Those are hot-button items this cycle” with Republicans in New Hampshire, he said.

Opinion polls of Republicans show Trump leading nationally and in New Hampshire.

The outspoken real estate magnate, who dominated the Republican race for months, broke an unusual silence of more than 12 hours on Twitter after his defeat in Iowa. He said on Tuesday he did well in the Midwestern state despite having spent little on his campaign there.

“Because I was told I could not do well in Iowa, I spent very little there — a fraction of Cruz & Rubio. Came in a strong second. Great honor,” he wrote on Twitter where he has regularly issued scathing criticism of his opponents.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Mohammed Zargham in Washington, Ginger Gibson and John Whitesides in Iowa and Emily Stephenson in New Hampshire; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio lifts one of his sons as he and his family leave the stage after speaking to supporters during the Rbio watch party at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

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26 responses to “Marco Rubio Becomes Early Hope For Mainstream Republicans”

  1. Otto Greif says:

    I can’t see voters electing two gay presidents consecutively.

    • JPHALL says:

      You really are that clueless aren’t you? So sad!

      • Independent1 says:

        I’m not sure it’s just being clueless – Otto is just an unusually despicable person who will say anything, no matter how hateful and absurd, just to try and get a rise from NM posters and probably make a few bucks from the RNC.

        • Charlotte Sines says:

          It just doesn’t make sense to keep answering him . He is only saying these things to get replies since he either gets paid for doing this or he is just getting his rocks off thinking he is getting people angry .

          • Paul Bass says:

            Kinda like when i hear:”they were just a normal guy at the gun range”

            Sorry, you go to a gun range to “somehow” get your rocks off. Or you go to practice killing someone. So what, exactly is “normal” about either of these behaviors?

      • BillP says:

        I think he left out the word “Republican” gay presidents in his comment.

    • bobnstuff says:

      You seem to be obsessed with the sexual orientation of people and see gays every where you look. Who cares? Do you want to sleep with these people?

    • FireBaron says:

      Why, Otto? Why don’t you want Rubio?

  2. Dominick Vila says:

    As bizarre as it may seem, Rubio, Kasich, and Jeb are the only relatively sane people in the field of Republican candidates running for President. It is even harder to believe that Rubio is the only one, among the three, with a fair chance to win the GOP nomination. His decision to do a U-turn after the backlash he got from endorsing the need to reform our immigration laws, prove that he is a political coward unwilling or unable to stand up and fight for what he believes is best for the country.
    In the interim, Cruz apologizes for stealing votes from Carson, the Donald can’t believe some people don’t love him, and as usual, proposals to help the middle class and improve our standard of living are being portrayed as proof positive of evil socialism. Anyway, it is good to see Sarah Palin back on the spotlight, and working earnestly on a sequel to the McCain-Palin fiasco. Thank God for small miracles.

  3. docb says:

    Marco is the least best of the bottom tier…High-heeled wearing cruz and rubio are in the bubble of ‘lie to me – lie to me’ of the wingnut degenerates!

  4. FireBaron says:

    Once again, the authors aren’t really paying attention. Rubio is Cuban-American. Yes, he speaks Spanish, but his ethnic background has nothing in common with Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America or even the rest of the Caribbean. They are a group apart from the others, with automatic legal residency granted regardless of how they arrived. Cruz is even worse – he is also Cuban, but wishes to deny any indication that he is not an immigrant hating Anglo.
    Neither has any appeal to the rest of the Hispanic community, outside of that narrow group of Cubans who plan on returning to Cuba after the Castros and their ilk are gone.

  5. yabbed says:

    What is “mainstream” about Rubio? He’s a radical right wing freak who believes his evangelical religious faith should be substituted for our Constitution. We are not a nation of Biblical law. We cannot put into the White House any President with strong religious affiliation, not Rubio, not Cruz, not Sanders. It would be the end of America’s leadership role in the world.

    • A_Real_Einstein says:

      Sanders is a non practicing Jew. You are anti Semitic and disgusting. Why would you say that?

    • charleo1 says:

      All Right Wingers claim to want to eliminate the separation of Church, and State. Today it’s a foundational tenet made necessary by the politics, and anti-labor, pro corporate stance of the Neo-Liberal leaders of the Conservative Right. Due to the fact you have to offer people something to illicit their support. And since better wages, affordable healthcare, and a more secure retirement are all off the table. They hold out the possibility of a scenario in which the Evangelicals, and other Social Authoritarians would have a real seat at the table. It’s a fantasy of course. Whether abortion is legal on demand, or made a criminal act is peanuts in comparison to rigging the economy, creating a huge pool of dirt cheap labor, and realizing sky high profit margins with absolutely no tax obligations attached.

    • edwardw69 says:

      What exactly is Sanders’ “strong religious affiliation”?

  6. VictorCraig says:

    Regardless of their ethnicity, I have neither love nor respect for anyone in the Republican Party. However, I am a Libra and it is my nature to be fair in my judgment of anyone including the members on that political group whose goals are to protect thieving banks and whose rhetoric is too often; racist, sexist, fear mongering, homophobic, hate-filled and xenophobic, but I thought I heard one voice of reason and intelligence from Senator Marco Rubio. I was favorably impressed with that young man until soon after his third place showing in the Iowa causes, this Hispanic son of Cuban immigrants echoed the chant of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump when he uttered the words, “We will take our country back”.

    Does anyone else catch the irony of that statement coming out of the mind of a second -generation American whose parents came to the USA as refugees or is it just ME?

    I omitted one other pertinent adjective that describes Republicans and that word is ‘hypocrites ”. In that sense, Marco fits in very nicely.

  7. Jinmichigan says:

    Besides getting elected to a job he hates and doesn’t do very well. what has little Marco ever accomplished? Not a thing I can find, and I’ve looked.

  8. ISAIAH says:

    There IS NO SUCH THING AS A MODERATE REPUBLICAN, SAYING THEY HAVE AN ESTABLISHMENT WING IS RIDICULOS

  9. Paul Bass says:

    Isn’t Rubio on his third or fourth religion? Hasn’t he changed religions whenever he changed states?

    And the Evangelicals don’t find this disconcerting?

  10. Sanity Please says:

    Rubio is AWOL from Florida and this is the guy normal Republicans want to turn to?!? Uh, no. Kasich, a proven quantity, would be a better choice.

  11. browninghipower says:

    Just how is this clown ‘mainstream’? ‘I want to thank my lord and svior Jesus Christ’ for a 3rd place finish? Really? And then watching him last night in Exeter, NH, home of a great school of rational learning, he spews more sewage than a broken main pipe into the Santa Monica harbor..not one fact, only fear, lies and and and [I’m sputtering here]. He’s more of an empty suit than Reagan ever was. At least Reagan had a sense of humor and sometimes irony. Rubio is purely vaporware.

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