- The Washington Times - Friday, February 12, 2016

Casting himself as a transformative political figure, Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday that he offers voters the chance to expand the conservative movement and unify the nation.

Mr. Rubio is trying to rebound from his fifth place showing in the New Hampshire primary, where a debate stumble zapped him of some of the momentum from his strong third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and fueled questions about whether he is too inexperienced for the job.

“You see we can’t manage our way out of this,” Mr. Rubio said at the Faith and Family presidential forum in South Carolina. “It is not enough to just say over the next four years we are going to do a better job of managing the American government. The damage that has been done is too extensive, our next president must be someone that can inspire us to re-embrace the principles that made us special to begin with.”

An Augusta Chronicle poll released this week showed businessman Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field, capturing 36.3 percent of the vote, ahead of South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary on Feb. 20.

Sen. Ted Cruz is running second at 19.6 percent, followed by Mr. Rubio, 14.6 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 10.9 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 8.7 percent.

Mr. Bush has warned voters that Mr. Rubio lacks the executive experience to be president and that could cost the party if the first-term Senator is nomination.

Mr. Rubio, though, has dismissed the criticism.

“It is not about electability” Mr. Rubio said “Electability is code for ‘vote for someone who is wishy-washy on their policies because that is what we have to do in order to win.’ Not this time.

“This time, if you vote for me you will have a chance to elect someone who is as conservative and as committed to conservatism as anyone in this race, but someone who can grow this movement, someone who can take our message to people that haven’t listened to us before and as a result someone who can unify our country,” he said.

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