Opinion: In US, Republican establishment banks on Rubio | Opinion | DW | 21.02.2016
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Opinion: In US, Republican establishment banks on Rubio

Donald Trump has won South Carolina's Republican primary with a large margin. Now that Jeb Bush has withdrawn, the hopes of the party establishment are riding on Senator Marco Rubio, DW's Miodrag Soric writes.

So far, nothing has damaged Donald Trump's presidential run - not the attention focused on his derogatory comments about fellow Republican candidates, not footage of him uttering various profanities, not even a verbal smackdown by Pope Francis. Following the South Carolina primary, he remains the Republican favorite. If Trump comes out on top next week on Super Tuesday, it will become increasingly difficult for the Republican Party's establishment to prevent his nomination. The New York billionaire knows this, which is why he will stick to his strategy of deliberately breaking taboos, dismissing criticism as "political correctness," and pouring scorn and malice on his rivals by the bucketful.

USA, South Carolina, Miodrag Soric

DW's Miodrag Soric was on the scene at Rubio's campaign headquarters in South Carolina

Now that Jeb Bush has withdrawn from the race, the hopes of the establishment are concentrated on Marco Rubio. The young senator from Florida achieved a notable, if distant, second place in South Carolina. In a speech thanking his supporters, Rubio had nothing but kind words for the former Florida governor who had attempted to brand himself as "Jeb!" Rubio is clearly hoping that some of his former rival's supporters will turn to his campaign in the remaining primaries.

Despite their poor resultus in South Carolina, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich appear driven to prolong their campaigns. US media have accused them of running "zombie" campaigns as their chances of winning the Republican nomination are getting closer and closer to nil.

Ted Cruz, the right-wing senator from Texas, can't really be happy with the results of the South Carolina primary either. Cruz came in third, a fraction of a percent behind Rubio. Trump successfully survived the Texan's attempts to paint him as a liberal. Cruz will have to come up with a new strategy. The intraparty mudslinging campaign continues.

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