On "Fox and Friends" on Wednesday morning, Rubio made the argument that the Republican party is starting to coalesce behind his campaign. The Florida senator has raked in a number of high-profile endorsements since former Florida governor Jeb Bush dropped out of the race Saturday. While Cruz is attempting to coalesce conservatives, Rubio is stating that he is "as conservative as anyone in this race," and can also gain the support of other branches of the party.
"They’re now all starting to consolidate across the spectrum in this party, with the understanding that if we don’t come together we’re never going to be able to provide a clear alternative to the direction that Donald Trump wants to take the Republican party and the country,” Rubio said.
In Las Vegas on Tuesday night, Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses handily over Trump, said that he is the only candidate who has notched a win over the businessman and that he can do it again.
“The undeniable reality that the first four states have shown is that the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” Cruz told supporters.
Rubio and Cruz face stiff headwinds, however, as Trump continues to notch decisive victories. Both Cruz and Rubio had hoped to do better in Nevada, with Cruz deploying a robust ground game and blitzing from rally to rally across the state. Rubio told his personal story -- he lived in Las Vegas for a number of years as a child and has a number of relatives there -- and was backed by the state's political establishment.
Trump continues to gather momentum going into March 1, known as "Super Tuesday," when 11 states will vote in a delegate bonanza that could throw Trump over the top or bolster Cruz or Rubio. Cruz said Super Tuesday is the "most important night" of the race for him -- it is when his home state of Texas votes. Polling in the state has shown Cruz with a commanding lead, but Trump appeared to be cutting into it over the past few days.
Cruz's showing in Nevada adds to the turmoil that his campaign has plunged into this week after a disappointing showing in South Carolina, where he was expected to do well among evangelical Christians and conservatives -- groups Trump captured -- and the firing of Cruz's chief spokesman after he posted a false video purporting to show Rubio disparaging the Bible.
To help propel him forward, a number of Cruz backers want the senator to start taking on Trump more directly and stop sniping with Rubio. Both the businessman and Rubio have branded Cruz a "liar," a charge that appears to be sticking with the electorate. Cruz has punched back at both Trump and Rubio, but backers want him to focus all of his fire on Trump. According to CNN, Cruz advisers said the candidate will change his position in the coming days and start hammering away at Trump.
Cruz had engaged in an odd political detante with Trump for months, only hitting at him in January after Trump questioned whether Cruz, who was born in Canada, is eligible to run for president. The two are now enmeshed in verbal warfare, with Cruz, a lawyer, last week daring Trump to sue him and stating the he would depose the businessman himself.
Rubio has yet to directly engage Trump -- something Trump noted in a rally this week, stating the Florida Republican has yet to hit him, but when he does, "you will see what happens."
The Florida Republican said Wednesday that he will hit Trump on policy issues, not with personal attacks, and instead tried to channel some of the populist anger that has catapulted Trump forward.
"His rhetoric is one that taps into that anger ... I share in that anger," Rubio said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
And Rubio said that he -- not Trump -- is the one to channel it toward the White House.
"Anger alone is not going to solve our problems … if you’re running for president, voters deserve to know exactly what you’re going to do, and Donald hasn’t outlined anything he plans to do," Rubio said.