- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 31, 2016

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday he feels good about his prospects in Iowa’s Republican caucuses but already is looking ahead to primary prizes down the road, elevating expectations for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before caucus-goers weigh in Monday.

Mr. Rubio is eying a third-place finish in Iowa behind Mr. Cruz and businessman Donald Trump, who seem poised to take the top two slots. Rather than predict early victory, he is positioning himself as the only candidate who can unite the party if Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz lose steam in New Hampshire and the remaining primary states.

“You know, obviously Ted is the front-runner. He’s got 10,000 volunteers. He has put a lot of resources and time. He got every endorsement he wanted,” Mr. Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“But we feel good about our work and the work we’ve done here,” he added. “What that translates to in future states, and we love being in Iowa and the people here have been fantastic. It has been a very rewarding experience.”

Mr. Rubio said he resents it when Mr. Cruz claims to be the only true conservative in the race. He also distanced himself from the bipartisan immigration reforms he pushed with the “gang of eight” in 2013, saying he will roll back President Obama’s executive actions to protect certain minors and their families from deportation.

“I don’t support amnesty. We’re not going to have amnesty when I’m president,” he said. “There’s going to be real consequences for violating our law.”

Mr. Rubio also said Mr. Trump, the current GOP front-runner, is beatable. He described the race as a marathon sprint to the general election, where some pundits feel the young senator would be competitive against whoever emerges from the Democratic primaries.

“This campaign is not about Republicans tearing each other up,” he said. “This campaign is about ensuring that we can turn this country around. We’re not going to turn this country around if a socialist like [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders or someone like [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States.”

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