Rising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio lands in New Hampshire today with post-Iowa momentum and climbing favorability ratings as he tries to build on last night’s unexpected third-place caucus finish.
“This is the moment they said would never happen,” Rubio told supporters last night.
“For months, they told us we had no chance. They told me I needed to wait my turn, that I needed to wait in line.”
Rubio finished a close third behind winner Ted Cruz and second-place Donald Trump, but the trio established a solid top tier in the Iowa results.
In his speech, Rubio tried to portray himself as the bridge between rogue candidates like Cruz and Trump and establishment favorites like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich.
“When I’m our nominee, we are going to unify this party, and we are going to unify the conservative movement,” said Rubio.
Rubio’s favorability ratings in New Hampshire grew by 3 points — from 56 percent to 59 percent — and stand higher than all other GOP candidates in New Hampshire except Ben Carson, who also had 59 percent in the latest Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll.
But Rubio will now likely face increased wrath from Trump — who has been devastating in his attacks on those he views as his top rivals — and greater competition from moderate candidates who are likely to fare better here than Iowa and who have spent more time in New Hampshire than Rubio.
The Florida Republican’s strong showing in Iowa last night — about 1 percentage point behind Trump — combined with a top-tier performance in the Granite State could open a flood of fundraising dollars and help him peak at just the right time, heading into South Carolina and Nevada and high-stakes Super Tuesday on March 1.
Rubio launches his home-stretch Granite State push tonight, holding a rally in Exeter at 6:15 p.m.
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