Top Florida paper: Rubio best chance to unite GOP
© Greg Nash

The Miami Herald said on Wednesday that Republican presidential candidate Marco RubioMarco RubioHaley to meet with senators during Washington trip Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE is the best contender to unite the GOP.

In an editorial published Wednesday, the Herald editorial board said Floridian voters can change the course of the election.

It called Rubio the "best remaining candidate with a mostly positive message and a practical nomination."

"Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMegyn Kelly blames member of Trump transition team for death threats Lewandowski: We can say 'Merry Christmas' again under Trump Trump to visit Ohio State victims MORE would have voters believe his campaign has gained unstoppable momentum, but a deeper look raises doubt," the editorial said.

It argued that Florida and Ohio — two states that have not yet voted — are "the nation's biggest swing states, crucial for candidates who want to win the ultimate showdown in November."

"Both states still have a favorite son in the GOP race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has remained above the fray throughout, avoiding the taunts and invective, but his poor showing in nearly every race makes him the longest of long shots," the article said.

"Floridians have a better practical option close to home."

The newspaper touted Rubio's impact as a senator, noting his ability to partner with Democrats and "bring sanity to the immigration system."

Although it noted disagreements with the senator on issues including abortion, Obamacare and climate change, it said Rubio does not "occupy the same extremist terrain" claimed by rival Ted CruzTed CruzPentagon's suppressed waste report only tip of the inefficient machine Markos Moulitsas: Kill the filibuster Ark., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test MORE.

"He has not led fights to shut down the government, accused his party’s leader in the Senate of working for the other side, or vowed to 'carpet bomb' anyone," it said.

Rubio has moved to the right during his campaign, but he "may well mellow his views later on," it said.

"He may not be an extremist like Ted Cruz, but his conservative credentials are solid. He’s a consistent favorite among traditional conservative organizations, with a voting record to match," it said.

But the editorial emphasized that Rubio needs a strong win Florida to "put the wind to his back" after winning only Minnesota on Super Tuesday.

"Forget about a brokered convention or a 'stop Trump' movement. The nominee should be the candidate who wins the hearts and votes of Republican rank-and-file members, not someone the 'establishment' anoints. The only way the nominee can win in November is by unifying the GOP and appealing to Democrats and independents," the editorial said.

"The best candidate to fill that role is Sen. Marco Rubio."