How the Rubio Camp Sees a Path to the Nomination from Here
Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) campaign said in a Sunday memo on his campaign stratgegy that his second-place finish in South Carolina underscores his "ability to mount a comeback in a crunch."
Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan stressed that only 4 percent of delegates have been awarded to date and they believe "we stand to benefit from a conservative movement and party coalescing around Marco’s candidacy like we saw in South Carolina."
The campaign analysis comes as Nevada's GOP senator, Dean Heller, and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) endorsed Rubio.
"As I’ve said repeatedly for months now, this is going to be a long delegate fight and we have a candidate and a campaign built to prevail," Sullivan said, proceeding to detail key takeaways from Saturday's primary contest.
"As the field consolidates, polls have shown that Marco benefits the most. We have always been the candidate with the most room to grow, unlike Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. He is consistently the second choice of voters who support other candidates and has the highest favorability of anyone in the race," the campaign manager said, echoing Rubio's contention that this is now a three-man race.
He said Rubio weathered "a wave of dirty tricks" in South Carolina to come in second and won with voters who prefer a president with political experience, according to exit polls.
Sullivan said the campaign utilized a "strong ground game" in South Carolina but "seldom talked about it."
"Unlike other campaigns, our field organization is built for success in all 50 states, not just one or two," he added. "For those who said winning in November was their top candidate quality, Marco won with 49 percent."
Sullivan then targeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), noting that if Cruz can't win a state with 73 percent evangelical primary voters despite making 50,000 calls per day and knocking on 7,000 doors daily "where else can he win?"
"As we saw in South Carolina, Senator Cruz’s willingness to say or do anything in order to win an election does not wear well on voters," he said, arguing that the exit poll showing 32 percent thought Cruz ran the most "unfair campaign" has "left him with permanent damage."