Opinion: Rubio could take the Republican nomination


Ashley Atherton is a junior political science major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Ashley Atherton

Marco Rubio seemed like one of those long-shot candidates until CNBC’s debate. After that, everyone, even political novices, knew Rubio’s name. But can he truly stay where he is and continue to rise, thus overtaking the antiestablishment candidates?

With the American people voicing their support of antiestablishment candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, Marco Rubio has an uphill battle ahead of him. However, Rubio spiked in polls after the debate and was even declared the “winner” of the CNBC debate by the Washington Post, the New York TimesCNN and Politico.

I agree, and the reason I think Rubio has a chance is this: he is the best of both Republican worlds. He’s conservative but not so incredibly conservative to the point that he is considered a member of the Tea Party, such as Sen. Ted Cruz.

It is important to note the Tea Party did help Rubio with his rise in politics. But the senator is also moderate enough to intrigue moderate Republicans. An NBC/Wall Street Journal Post found more Republican voters said they could see themselves supporting Rubio than any of the other candidates in the race.

At the debate, Rubio came out strong. For each question, he had a strong, substantive answer. He didn’t speak in a fluffy manner — as I like to refer to answers that aren’t actually answers to a question — nor did he skim over his policy ideas like Donald Trump.

He came out speaking intelligently and sounded much better than he did at the last debate. Honestly, at the debate prior to CNBC’s, I didn’t think anything of him. I didn’t like his answers, and I really didn’t think he sounded as smart as he should have. But this most recent debate was a turning point for him.

Rubio deflected attacks very well and did it in a manner that did not sound like heated knives, like Trump’s attacks and backlashes. When Jeb Bush attacked his fellow Floridian politician and former protégé, he thought he had it in the bag. But Rubio came out the clear winner of that argument. Bush even lost one of his top fundraisers over it. Rubio deflected all attacks better than anyone else on that stage.   

He’s even repelled attacks from Trump, who clearly has started to see Rubio as a threat; otherwise, he would not bother publicly campaigning against him.

This week, Trump made a point to bring up Rubio’s credit card record, insinuating he isn’t trustworthy because of that. Rubio defended himself well, releasing his credit card statements and proving although he may have made a mistake, he regrets it and paid off all of his own debts. He even was able to fire back at Trump about some of his business’s past bankruptcies.

Rubio has shot up to third in polls, trailing Trump and Carson. If Trump and Carson continue on self-destructive paths —  and Carson is especially good at destroying his campaign — then Rubio really does have a shot. If he continues to do well in the upcoming Republican debates, I think it will be easy for him to surpass the two current frontrunners and take the nomination.

Ashley Atherton is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].