It may be primary day bluster, or it may be the truth, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says that he plans to continue on in the presidential primary even if, as is widely expected, he loses his home state to frontrunner Donald Trump in today’s voting.
“Tomorrow our plan is to be in Utah campaigning irrespective of tonight,” Rubio said in an interview with Florida news radio station WDBO on Tuesday. “It would be a lot better to go to Utah being the winner of the Florida primary. It would give us a tremendous amount of momentum. It would give us 99 delegates, and that’s the way we want to do it tonight.”
Rubio said that he believes the polls in his home state, most of which show billionaire Donald Trump ahead by as much as 20 points are “out of whack” and that the reality is a much closer race.
Rubio also reiterated his warning that Trump is a poor choice for the nomination, though he said, “my intention remains to support the Republican nominee.”
However, he added, “If he’s our nominee, we’re going to lose. We’re going to lose by a lot. And then there’s going to be a great reckoning.”
He said, “Many of the things he has done are damaging to the conservative movement. I find them to be unacceptable. I think it’s unacceptable to have a nominee that encourages people to attack other people physically at rallies, who uses profanity, who has been disrespectful to women, to minorities, to the disabled. I just look at it and say, he doesn’t in anyway exemplify to me what a leader should be about and certainly doesn’t exemplify any sort of servant leadership and humbleness. So, it gets harder every day, to be honest with you.”
Ironically, one of the factors behind the success of Trump has been the unwillingness of other GOP candidates – like senators who can’t win their own states – to drop out of the race once it becomes clear that they have no realistic path to the majority of the party’s delegates.
In almost all the states where he has been successful so far, Trump has won only by plurality, not majority. He is able to do that, in large part, because the field is so divided among the other candidates. If Rubio loses his own state, he will wake up tomorrow hundreds of delegates behind Trump, with no prospect of an outright win, and a guarantee that he will only continue contributing to the division of the anti-Trump vote.
Barring a miraculous win tonight, actually seeing Rubio in Utah tomorrow feels like a longshot – and many voices across the GOP will be calling for him to step out of the way to clear a path for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the only candidate remaining with a mathematically possible path to a majority of delegates.