Marco Rubio, the 44-year-old U.S. senator from Florida, rose to third place in the Republican presidential primary race this week, making him the top-polling candidate with experience in an elected-office.
As Rubio seeks to overtake Ben Carson and Donald Trump — the so-called "outsider" candidates — Newsmax has gathered below 11 reasons why he has a good chance of doing so.
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1. He KO'd Jeb Bush in the debate
— Rubio has turned in solid performances at all three Republican primary debates, but his shining moment came during last week's debate in Colorado, when he deflected an attack from his one-time mentor, Jeb Bush, and hit back with a knockout punch. Bush went after Rubio's senatorial attendance record, telling him, "you should be showing up to work." In response, Rubio said, "You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you're now modeling [your campaign] after? . . . I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you."
2. He fights back against the liberal mainstream media
— During the Colorado debate, Rubio took a cue from fellow Sen. Ted Cruz in attacking the biased debate moderators rolled out by CNBC, as well as the rest of the liberal media. "I know the Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. It's called the mainstream media," he said, winning loud applause.
3. He's a talker and a doer
— "Jeb Bush explains his debate performances by saying he’s a doer, not a talker. But how is it possible that someone operating at the highest level of American politics could go into these debates without committing to memory four or five set pieces about the core ideas of his candidacy? They’re only 60-seconds long. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have done that. He hasn’t. He’s falling; they’re rising," said Daniel Henninger in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal
4. He's seen as a real threat by other candidates
— After post-debate polling showed Rubio on the rise, his rivals turned their attention toward him, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. "During a news conference Tuesday in Manhattan, Trump called Rubio 'overrated,' accused him of being 'a disaster with his credit cards' and attacked him as 'very weak' on immigration. At the same time, Bush . . . has disparagingly labeled Rubio as a 'GOP Obama,'" The Washington Post wrote
on Monday. While attacks can hurt candidates, they can also give them free publicity. Moreover, if the attack is successfully parried — as was Bush's attack during the debate — it can backfire, and end up strengthening them.
5. He gets the pundits chattering
— "Immigration hawks such as Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter appear unlikely to ever give Rubio a second chance," The Hill wrote
on Wednesday. "Others, such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck, appear enthused by Rubio’s political skills and ready to reconsider him." With Rubio's name now in the top three spots, he has the opportunity to convince his skeptics that he's the man for the job. Once the pundits are reconsidering him, so will the primary voter base.
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6. His endorsements are growing
— "This week, Marco Rubio has shown signs of momentum, picking up endorsements from three fellow senators, including one today from Sen. James E. Risch of Idaho," FiveThirtyEight wrote
Tuesday. "In contrast to Bush’s three endorsement points since Labor Day, Rubio has received 22 — by far the most of any Republican candidate over that span." The publication also shared a graph on Twitter to illustrate Rubio's upswing in endorsements.
7. Influential billionaire Paul Singer is on his side
— According to The New York Times
, "One of the wealthiest and most influential Republican donors in the country is throwing his support to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a decision that could swing millions of dollars in contributions behind Mr. Rubio at a critical point in the Republican nominating battle . . . Singer, who gave more money to Republican candidates and causes last year than any donor in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is courted by Republicans both for the depth of his own pockets and for his wide network of other conservative givers."
8. He is young but experienced
— Unlike much of the Republican field and all of the Democratic field — where the candidates are all over 65 — Rubio is seen by many as a fresh-faced candidate with the energy to lead the country for eight years. While he is young, he also has the experience, having served four terms in the Florida legislature, including as speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip.
9. He embodies the American dream
— While candidates like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush were born to wealthy families, Marco Rubio was born in Miami to poor Cuban parents who had fled the deadly rise of Fidel Castro. Through hard work, Rubio has risen to the top of American politics at a relatively young age, and his story resonates with a great many voters.
10. He can win the Hispanic vote
— As a Miami native who speaks fluent Spanish, Rubio stands a good chance of peeling away Hispanic voters that the Democrats have come to rely on in past elections.
11. He is a true conservative
— Rubio earned a perfect "100" rating from the American Conservative Union, and has been called the "crown prince" of the Tea Party movement by publications like The Washington Post.
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