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LAS VEGAS — The Republican presidential primary was supposed to be a race down two lanes, one conservative and the other establishment.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has meticulously cultivated the image of a conservative firebrand, and has built his primary campaign strategy around consolidating the conservative "lane" that includes conservative voters — Tea Partiers, libertarians, evangelical Christians, and so on. If former Florida Gov. Jeb has any chance of winning, he would need to consolidate the so-called GOP establishment lane (ironically, Donald Trump appears to be winning among these Republicans.)

Enter Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who rounds out the top tier within the field of a dozen candidates, along with Cruz and Trump, the celebrity real estate mogul. With Bush faltering and the other contenders who emanate from the Republican Party's governing wing stuck in the back of the pack, Rubio has been branded the leading establishment candidate, both by political pundits and his Republican opponents that are hoping to suppress his support among self-identified conservatives.

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