Will GOP support Rubio post-Bush campaign?

Posted at 6:56 PM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-22 18:56:53-05

The battle over who will win the GOP presidential nomination got a little less crowded over the weekend, after former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stepped down from the race.

"His style of campaigning just didn't fit this campaign cycle," said Peter Bergerson, professor of political science at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Many in the Republican establishment saw Bush as their choice candidate, and a comfortable alternative to front-runner Donald Trump. While personality has driven much of the campaign season, Bergerson said that Bush ran on issues and policy.

Now that Bush is out of the race, Bergerson thinks Senator Marco Rubio could scoop up many voters who were backing Bush.

"My guess is that the greater portion of the financial supporters will go to Rubio," Bergerson said. "They were starting to move in that direction already, and my guess is that particularly here in Florida, since he's been elected senator, he will get the voters as well."

Scott Lepore of the Collier County Republican Club said that while some in the Washington, D.C. Republican establishment might prefer Rubio, he's more likely to win bronze in this race - not gold or silver.

"Rubio will get some Bush voters, but I'm just not so sure that he would get the same number with Trump being in the race," Lepore said. 

"I think that there's a perception, especially among Tea Party Republicans, that they are looking to people like Trump, people like (John) Kasich," Lepore added. "They're definitely not looking to people like Rubio."

Bergerson said Rubio is unlikely to become the Republican nominee, but is in good standing to be added to the nominee's ticket as vice-presidential running mate.