Marco Rubio

Rubio is another candidate that Republicans believe has crossover appeal and could garner establishment support while energizing the base.

His  fiery opposition to the president’s move to normalize relations with Cuba reminded many in the party that he’s one of the most effective communicators they have and that he has a strong personal story to tell.

“If Rubio rises, it will be on the back of national security and the fact he has potentially one of the most, if not the most, compelling narratives,” O’Connell said.

Rubio impressed the donors at a summit on Sunday sponsored by Freedom Partners, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, winning their straw poll. Rubio has instructed his staff to proceed as if he’s running for president and spent the week courting donors in California and Florida. 

The big question hanging over his head is whether his political skills will be enough to keep him upright in a fight against Bush, whose Sunshine State operations and donor base will be difficult for him to compete with.