Rubio has long emphasized that the party needs a fresh candidate, not one tied to the past, an implicit criticism of his fellow Floridian who is part of an American political dynasty. Bush, a two-term former governor, has belittled Rubio’s experience, or lack thereof. Kasich, a two-term governor and longtime House member, has claimed that his experience and record are unmatched by any of the other candidates.
Advisers to the three anticipate more attacks ahead. “The Bush campaign is feverishly doing their opposition research on Governor Kasich and Senator Rubio,” said John Weaver, Kasich’s chief strategist. “An empire like that is not going to go quietly into the night. We’re expecting pretty sharp elbows to be thrown. We’re going to handle it head on.”
Past Republican nomination contests often have devolved into competition between a candidate from the center-right or mainstream conservative wing of the party and a candidate from the hard right or populist conservative wing. Most times, the candidate from the mainstream conservative wing becomes the nominee.
This year, the race is more scrambled because of the added factor of the apparent desire by many Republicans for an outsider or non-politician. That has elevated Trump, Carson and Fiorina and has forced the others to adapt. Rubio has been stressing that, despite being in the Senate, he’s really not of Washington.
Instead of establishment vs. tea party, one GOP strategist describes the race this time as a competition between those in the anger, or anti-Washington, lane, vs. those in the aspirational lane. Bush, Rubio and Kasich all fall more into the aspirational lane.