Rubio’s homestretch pitch: I’m more electable than Trump or Cruz

“If you make me the nominee, we’re gonna win. I will beat Hillary Clinton,” Rubio said in Ames. “And you don’t have to compromise your principles to win.”

That last part is the key, said Todd Harris, a senior Rubio strategist.

“In the past, when candidates talk about electability, that’s usually code for forcing conservatives to sacrifice their principles in order to nominate someone who supposedly can win,” Harris told POLITICO. “Our point is Marco can defeat Hillary Clinton and no conservative has to sacrifice their principles. That is a case that we can make better than anyone else in this field by a factor of about 100.”

Jack Whitver, Rubio’s Iowa state chairman, opens every Rubio event with an electability pitch. He casts Rubio as the rare Republican who can unite voters across the conservative ideological spectrum — a necessity to beat Clinton. “This year we can have it all,” Whitver says.