Marco Rubio Defies Republican Primary History: ‘There’s Never Been a Race Like This’

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Sen. Marco Rubio defied a prediction that he would be unable to beat Donald Trump, now that the billionaire presidential candidate has emerged from New Hampshire and South Carolina with big victories over the rest of the Republican field.

In his Feb. 21 “State of The Union” show, CNN’s Jake Tapper told Rubio that no Republican has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina had not gone on to win the nomination.

“There’s never been a race like this,” Rubio responded. “You cannot apply the rules of the other races to this one.”

Rubio argued that because the Republican presidential field was so large to begin with, it would take more time to settle the race.

He said that 30 percent of the vote supported Donald Trump, but that the remaining 65 percent to 70 percent of the vote was still being split between multiple candidates.

“You do the math fairly quickly, and you realize that, if this was a more traditional or narrower race, the results would be different,” he said. Rubio suggested that the results in South Carolina signaled the beginning of the “real Republican primary” calling the previous states the “semifinals and the quarterfinals.”

“Here is where it really begins at this point … I think the race last night was reset in a way that, quite frankly, I think is going to be very beneficial to our efforts,” he explained.

But Rubio was unwilling to predict an outright victory in the Feb. 23 caucus in Nevada, where Rubio spent part of his boyhood life.

“Can you win in Nevada?” asked Tapper. “I hope so,” Rubio replied. “We’re going to work hard to do it.”