Dole hopes Rubio finishes second in SC despite backing Bush

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Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) says he hopes Marco RubioMarco RubioSunday shows preview: Bernie soldiers on Fla. Senate candidate bashes Rubio The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE finishes second in Saturday's South Carolina Republican primary, even ahead of Jeb Bush, whom he's endorsed.

“I hope Rubio finishes second,” he told National Review Thursday. “We have to have a nominee, Republicans, who can bring the party together and reach out to moderates and independents and not just the far right-wing."

Polls show Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJohnson faces tough crowd at Libertarian debate Sanders: Primary isn't 'rigged,' just 'dumb' Trump University judge to unseal documents MORE as the clear favorite in the Palmetto State, but Rubio and Bush are locked in a close race to be the party's establishment standard-bearer.

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Dole, a World War II veteran and the 1996 GOP nominee, endorsed Bush in November, agreeing to lead his outreach to veterans.

But in the interview, Dole suggested that Bush is unlikely to have a strong showing in South Carolina, even with his brother former President George W. Bush on the trail.

"If it's not Jeb, I hope it's Rubio," Dole said.

“I’m not seeing a lot of movement there,” he added of Bush. “He’s got [Sen.] Lindsey [Graham (S.C.)] down there helping him, and his brother came in to help him, and he’s still at about what, 10 percent? [That] is way behind top three.”

Dole also said he dislikes Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzMeet the billionaire donor behind Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Party chairs see reversal of fortune McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ MORE (R-Texas), who has had a contentious relationship with fellow senators.

“Nobody’s checked to see where his money’s coming from,” he said. "It’s probably big oil.

“Not one Republican, even though [Cruz] is doing pretty well in the polls, has raised his hand to support him, and to me that speaks volumes. I don’t think we need that kind of person.”

Cruz has yet to net an endorsement from a fellow senator.

Dole said it was important to tap a nominee who could unite the party.

“I don’t know whether Trump can bring the party together,” he continued. "I’ve never met him, but he’s probably a good person. I never meet rich people.”

Trump leads the GOP presidential field by about 16 points in South Carolina, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, with Cruz in second. Rubio trails Cruz by less than 1 percent.

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