Former governor Jeb Bush was in Florida on Monday, trying desperately to reset his faltering GOP presidential campaign with a speech and release of a new campaign e-book. Meanwhile, his one-time protégé and chief rival for establishment Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio, has begun to surge in New Hampshire, a critical battleground state.
The freshman Florida senator parlayed a strong debate showing last Wednesday into a sizeable uptick in a new poll in New Hampshire -- placing him third behind billionaire Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, according to a new Monmouth University poll of the state’s likely Republican primary voters. Although Rubio trails Trump by 13 points, he has moved within three points of Carson, a remarkable short-term spurt in support.
“Marco Rubio’s standout performance in the last debate seems to have paid dividends in a contest that was supposed to be dominated by his former mentor, Jeb Bush,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey.
The telephone survey was conducted over four days following last week’s often chaotic CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado. Rubio upstaged Bush during that two-hour debate, especially when Bush tried to make an issue of Rubio’s absenteeism and spotty voting record in the Senate. The former Florida governor is stuck at 7 percentage points in the latest survey, while Rubio more than tripled his support since the last Monmouth poll was conducted in September.
“My issue is not with Jeb Bush—I’m running for president because I honestly believe that our party and our country needs to turn the page,” Rubio said on Sunday on the CBS’s Face the Nation.
Trump has preserved his lead with 26 percent in the latest poll, or 10 percentage points ahead of Carson, although both men have lost some ground since September. Besides moving up in the poll to 13 percent, Rubio saw his favorability rating shoot up since September, from 50 percent to 62 percent.
The poll also contains a little good news for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who used the debate to attack Trump’s and Carson’s tax cut plans, saying that they would drive up the deficit. Kasich came in fourth in the latest poll with 11 percent.