He had a week ago the best hope of the Republican establishment, Marco Rubio suddenly faces a path to his party’s presidential nomination that could need a brokered national convention.According to Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, who talked with The Associated Press about this week’s disappointing performance in New Hampshire will extend the Republican nomination fight for another three months, if not longer. This is the worst poll outcome for Rubio and many Republican officials as well who hoped to prevent a prolonged and painful nomination fight in 2016.

“We very easily could be looking at May — or the convention,” Sullivan said aboard Rubio’s charter jet from New Hampshire to South Carolina on Wednesday. “I would be surprised if it’s not May or the convention.”

The public acceptance of a possible brokered convention marks a resounding shift in rhetoric from Rubio’s top adviser that could be designed to raise alarm bells among Republican officials. Few days after a disappointing fifth-place position in New Hampshire and working hard to to catch up with Donald Trump in next-up South Carolina, Rubio’s presidential ambitions are in its trial times.

Rubio boldly stated :”I don’t need to start these fights, but if someone starts one in the future we’re going to have to point out the differences in our records in a sharper way,” Rubio said. “I don’t think we have the luxury any longer to basically say ‘Look, I don’t want to argue with Republicans.’ ”

In remarks that were at times personal and others defiant, he also may have simply needed to talk it out to help process his predicament. It also seemed he needed to prove to the political world, himself and his family that he could face the biggest test of his young presidential bid.

“My kids were watching me last night,” Rubio said of his nationally televised admission that a poor debate performance pushed voters away. “My kids knew that it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.”