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Rubio Campaign Looks To Florida Primary


With Super Tuesday in the rear-view mirror, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is looking ahead to the Florida Primary on March 15, considered by many to be essential to his campaign, while continuing to attack front-runner Donald Trump.

Speaking Tuesday night to supporters in Miami, Rubio said his campaign had just begun making a case against Trump.

“Just five days ago, we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner so far in this race,” said Rubio. “Five days ago, we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist.”

While Rubio only took one Super Tuesday state, Minnesota, he nearly upset Trump in Virginia. Many point to his attacks on Trump the past week. But, Rubio didn’t make it to the 20% delegate mark in Alabama and Texas, leaving him empty-handed in both.

Florida’s 99 delegates are winner-take-all. One of the questions surrounding the Rubio campaign is: will Florida be his salvation, or his damnation? Probably neither, according to Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

“The bottom line is that in spite of this Super Tuesday haul by Trump, he’s yet to secure more than one-fourth of the needed delegates to get the nomination,” said McManus. “So there’s still a lot of these candidates that will hang on, if they can keep Trump below the 1,237 votes needed to nominate.”

The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Trump leading Rubio 44-28% among likely Republican primary voters in Florida. Ted Cruz has 12%; John Kasich 7% and Ben Carson, who could announce his withdrawal on Friday, was at 4%. But Rubio could still gain from what McManus sees as many, many changes of heart.

“Floridians are starting to think about electability,” McManus said. “Florida Republicans are a little bit older, [and] thinking about how that candidate’s going to affect people all the way down the line.”

Numerous media outlets, including CBS, Fox News and the Washington Times, have reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott will endorse Donald Trump. However, Scott told the Tampa Bay Times he hadn't made a decision about a possible endorsement, if he endorses anyone at all.

McManus says Rubio could benefit greatly from the endorsement of a former presidential hopeful, if he decides to offer it.

“Jeb Bush’s [endorsement] would be a very different thing because he was Marco Rubio’s mentor,” said McManus. “Some think that would be a really good signal to other Republicans who may have been withholding their voting for Rubio. But it will still be a very, very tough fight.”

And as we get past the next 13 caucuses and primaries, including Mississippi, Michigan and Louisiana, and onto March 15, no doubt Marco Rubio will continue this mantra aimed at Donald Trump and establishment Republicans, and repeated on CNN:

“This is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. If we nominate Donald Trump as our nominee, it will be the end of the modern Republican Party.”