Matt McDaniel

2 minute read

Marco Rubio is having a very good Nevada Caucus Eve.

Not only has he picked up a few Jeb! Bush fundraisers, but his campaign is pouring out all of the endorsements it can, including:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

Bob Dole

Orrin Hatch

The South Florida Congressional Delegation

Sen. Jeff Flake

Sen. Dean Heller

Tim Pawlenty

Sen. Thom Tillis

There are probably a few others that will break today and tomorrow. It’s important to note that some of these individuals, Dole and Hatch, especially, had supported Jeb Bush (from a Party loyalty perspective) early in the race. If there ever was a defined “establishment wing” of the GOP, it is generally embodied in the endorsements Rubio is bringing out this afternoon.

Rubio has largely been winning the “endorsements” game in the Republican primary. Most notably, Rubio secured the endorsement of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in the run up to the South Carolina primary. It is unclear if the endorsement helped Rubio to outperform Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with whom Rubio is vying for second place nationally, or whether Rubio was seeing a natural uptick in his polling numbers.

Suffice it to say that the message being sent may not be for voters at all, but rather to Ohio Governor John Kasich, the other “establishment” candidate still in the race. After a performance in New Hampshire that exceeded most expectations, Kasich is looking to create his own “establishment lane” candidacy with a firewall in Ohio on March 15.

The Rubio camp wants Kasich out of the race and the 5-15% of the vote that Kasich is garnering in polls.

Rubio’s traditional play for endorsements is contrasted sharply by Donald Trump, who has received no Congressional endorsements, and Ted Cruz who has not been endorsed by any of his fellow Senators. However, in a year of outsiders, Cruz and Trump are banking on the fact that their supporters see their aversion to “business as usual in DC” and the endorsement game as positive signs of their unwillingness play by the GOP’s traditional rules.