At a Thursday event in Weare, New Hampshire, presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz labeled opposing candidate Sen. Marco Rubio as the media-anointed “chosen one” for the GOP establishment but ultimately unelectable like prior failed nominees.
Cruz compared the number three candidate out of Iowa to past establishment candidates Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney — the candidates touted as the “electable one(s)” to win the GOP nomination but went on to lose in the general election. The Wall Street Journal reported that he claimed Rubio’s surge is tied to a coordinated push for a Democrat-leaning candidate. According to Cruz, Rubio “has agreed with the Democrats the most.”
“I understand that in the media newsrooms and in the Washington establishment circles, Marco is the chosen one,” Mr. Cruz said outside a sports bar here. He went on to dismiss Mr. Rubio’s third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, which Mr. Cruz won. “In the media’s telling, bronze is the new gold.”
Cruz slighted Rubio’s Iowa performance, saying the media is painting a “bronze” finish as “gold.”
Rubio celebrated his third place position in the Iowa caucuses behind Cruz and Trump as a big win. He did come out far ahead of fellow establishment candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie. His finish within range of insurgent candidate Donald Trump came as a surprise to many.
A CNN poll released Thursday has Rubio jumping in New Hampshire to number two at 18 percent behind front-runner Trump, who is at a commanding 29 percent. Cruz sits at third in the poll with 12 percent.
Early predictions in the 2016 GOP race for the presidency tagged Jeb Bush as the establishment golden boy just waiting for formal coronation. But with Rubio in the spotlight, now Bush stands waiting in the wings to pick up the slack should Rubio falter or the establishment winds switch yet again.
With New Hampshire just days away and the establishment set gunning for position there, Rubio could edge out the competition in the long haul if he pulls out a strong result. Bush and Christie are taking shots at Rubio in efforts to raise their positions in the race.
Jeb Bush questioned Rubio’s qualifications again on Thursday, asking what accomplishments the junior Senator has to show for his ambitions and as a politician. Christie compared Rubio’s time in the Senate to that of Barack Obama. Christie’s campaign is also using a Morning Joe interview with failed 2016 candidate Rick Santorum, where Santorum, who is now endorsing Rubio, said of the freshman Senator, “The bottom line is, there isn’t a whole lot of accomplishment.”
Rubio is firing back against the establishment label, telling Sean Hannity on Fox News that he rejects labels and he’s not an “establishment Republican.” He then argued that he overcame establishment candidate Charlie Crist and that his opponents in that race went on to participate in Bush’s presidential campaign.
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