Exclusive — Marco Rubio: ‘I Feel Very Good About Our Chances,’ But Cluttered Field Empowers Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, left, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley share a laugh with the crowd at a campaign rally at Clemson University Friday, February 19, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio says he wants to start winning presidential primaries, but until some of his Republican rivals drop out, he sees the cluttered Republican field empowering Donald Trump in early states.

In an interview with Breitbart News, Rubio declined to predict victory in any upcoming primaries, but signaled optimism that more Republicans would coalesce behind his campaign.

“Obviously we want to do as well as we can everywhere and eventually we’re going to have to start winning states, because they become winner-take-all states where all of the delegates go to whoever the winner is,” he said in an interview earlier this week.

As Trump leads the polls in South Carolina and other upcoming primary states, Rubio insisted there isn’t a looming sense of inevitability surrounding Trump after his dominating win in New Hampshire.

“I haven’t heard the sense that it’s inevitable, I think there’s the sense that he’s done well up to this point and will continue to do well as long as the field has five other people running,” he said, when asked about Trump. “I think once the field narrows down, you’re going to get a better sense of where this is headed.”

For Rubio, the disappointment in New Hampshire is behind him. He sees progress in South Carolina. After a strong debate performance in the state last week, Rubio campaigned hard with Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott, two of South Carolina’s favorite politicians.

“Obviously we didn’t do as well in New Hampshire as we wanted to and we were disappointed about that, but I think that we came into South Carolina working hard, had a good debate, and has really felt like the momentum for us is back,” Rubio explained, citing larger crowds of enthusiastic supporters. “We feel like we’ve got the wind at our back now.”

An endorsement from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley helped solidify Rubio’s political momentum in the state after Jeb Bush campaigned with his brother former president George W. Bush.

A South Carolina poll of the state released Friday showed Trump leading with 28 percent followed by Ted Cruz with 23 percent. Rubio was polling at third with 15 percent, and Bush had 13 percent. Gov. John Kasich and Ben Carson were tied with 9 percent.

The results in South Carolina, Rubio predicted, might help narrow the field making him much more competitive with Cruz and Trump.

“Once we can get ourselves in a field that’s narrower where the choice is down to two or three people as opposed to six or seven people, I feel very good about our chances,” he said. “But I don’t know when that’s going to begin, a lot of it depends on what happens here in South Carolina.”


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