After placing third in the Iowa caucuses, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is racing to consolidate support among mainstream Republicans and become the alternative presidential candidate to Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Mr. Rubio said he could unite the Republican Party, whose warring factions have been on public display in the race for president. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz have alienated large swaths of the U.S. electorate with anti-immigrant rhetoric that mainstream Republicans believe could threaten the future of their party.
Iowa’s results showed that Mr. Rubio has broad appeal among conservatives and moderates. He almost tied with Mr. Trump’s 24-per-cent support and trailed Mr. Cruz by only five percentage points. Now, he has much needed momentum for the second election contest, in New Hampshire next week.
“The biggest challenge for Rubio is to unite the more establishment-leaning Republicans behind him. He has six days to do it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.