Rubio aiming to be Republicans' establishment candidate

LACONIA, New Hampshire (AP) — Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is using the momentum from his third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses to show New Hampshire voters that he is the Republican for all Americans and the best chance of stopping Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Rubio finished behind Cruz, the heavy favorite among Iowa's disproportionately influential evangelical conservatives, and less than a percentage point behind the billionaire Trump in the country's leadoff contest Monday.

If Rubio tops Cruz in New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday and finishes ahead of candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he will have more evidence to support a point he's been pressing for weeks: He is the candidate to unite the party.

"When I am our nominee I can bring this party together," Rubio told a campaign event Wednesday in New Hampshire. "We cannot win if we are divided against each other."

The New Hampshire Republican primary often draws independents and more fiscally conservative voters. Rubio's campaign is hoping he can show support in two states with very different electorates as evidence of a campaign with longevity.

The Florida senator describes Cruz as chronically "calculating" and points to the failure of others to pull in higher numbers as testament to their inability to lead. Rubio has reasoned that Trump has unveiled insufficient policy and hasn't given him enough to criticize, even though they disagree on several fundamental issues.

"He needs to coalesce the vote before he can challenge Trump," said Republican pollster Greg Strimple, who is unaligned with any of the campaigns.

Trump differs sharply from Rubio on immigration policy by supporting the deportation of all people in the U.S. illegally. Rubio supports deporting "criminal aliens" but is open to a process by which people in the country illegally may stay after immigration security is addressed.