CNBC hosted the third Republican primary debate on Wednesday 28th October. With 10 candidates on stage and only two hours it was hard to create an impressive performance, but one candidate that managed to perform well was Marco Rubio. The Florida Senator made an impression early on when Jeb Bush, Rubio’s former mentor, questioned his commitment to being a Senator. Rubio’s response not only received great applause from the crowd but also silenced Jeb Bush for the remainder of the debate. It showed that Rubio, who is currently serving his first term in the US Senate, can perform extremely well against some of the more experienced and louder personalities amongst the Republican Candidates.
His performance resulted in him jumping to third in many polls with around 9%. This is still a long way behind the top two candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who have around 25% each. Rubio, however, has held positions in the Florida Assembly and is currently a Senator, which highlights political experience, something that is a major weakness for the two leading candidates. Furthermore, when looking at the 2012 primary election Herman Cain was leading the polls this time four years ago yet he never managed to win a primary in any state. This shows it is still too early to dismiss Rubio and indeed the other Republican candidates. Granted, although Trump and Carson may not suffer the same fate as Herman Cain they should still be wary of Rubio.
Since the third debate Rubio has secured funding from a top Republican fundraiser and donor, Paul Singer. This endorsement is a major setback for Jeb Bush in particular who was hoping for Singer’s backing. Through Singer, Rubio has gained a significant amount of money in a race where having significant financial backing usually translates into success. Furthermore, Rubio’s Cuban heritage gives him an advantage when appealing to the influential and ever growing Hispanic community within the United States, although historically this demographic has sided mainly with the Democrats. Rubio could, however, challenge the democrat dominance and use Hispanic votes to gain a significant advantage in the primary.
However, this does not mean Rubio is faultless. His career path has been questioned with people wondering whether he will be able to handle the pressures of being President. His career closely resembles that of Obama’s, which began with a tenure in state legislature, then spending less than one term in the Senate and now campaigning for President. Many people believe that he should build up some more political experience first before campaigning for the office and not fall victim to the inexperience that has sometimes thwarted Obama. Furthermore, Rubio is not favoured much by the Republican establishment and indeed the more conservative members of the Republican party, especially on the key issue of immigration. Nevertheless, Rubio has risen to the forefront of this election and could become an influential factor in the Republican primary.