Rubio Bows out of White House Race
Marco Rubio suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday after losing badly to Donald Trump in his home state of Florida.
“While it is not God’s plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I’ve even come this far is evidence of how truly special America is,” Rubio told supporters in Miami.
The Hill reports:
With 81 percent of the precincts reporting, Trump was thumping Rubio in Florida by nearly 20 points, leading 45.6 percent to 27.1 percent. He has outpaced the senator by nearly 400,000 votes so far.
Rubio only mentioned Trump by name once in his concession speech, to congratulate the front-runner on his victory. Still, he repeatedly alluded to the threat he thinks Trump poses to the nation.
“I ask the American people: Do not give into the fear, do not give in to the frustration,” he said. “We can disagree about public policy, we can disagree vibrantly and passionately, but we are a hopeful people.”
Later, as supporters sought to shout down a protester, Rubio called out, “Don’t worry, you won’t get beat up at our event.”
The Florida senator paid homage to the sentiments that have surrounded the rise of Trump, saying the nation is “in the middle of a real political storm, a real tsunami.”
“People are angry and they are frustrated,” Rubio said.
He laid much of the blame at the feet of the political establishment, saying that “millions of people in this country are tired of being dismissed by the self-proclaimed elitists.
“I blame most of it on our political establishment, that for far too long has looked down at conservatives as simple-minded people and bomb-throwers, and that for far too long has taken the votes of conservatives for granted,” he said.
For Rubio, it was a disappointing finish to a campaign that never delivered on its potential.
The loss will raise questions about his political future as he returns to Washington a lame-duck senator.
Some believe Rubio, who decided against running for reelection to focus on his presidential campaign, could have an eye on the governor’s mansion in 2018.
But that race will be complicated by the disappointing end to his White House bid.
Rubio launched his presidential campaign 11 months ago from Miami with high hopes and a theme of a “New American Century.”
He has long been a favorite of conservative media elites, and his candidacy drew parallels to Barack Obama’s rise eight years ago.
Both were young first-term senators with nonwhite heritages and top-flight rhetorical skills promising a way forward to a new generation of politics.
Rubio hoped to contrast his youthful image of hope with that of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, whom he implicitly described as candidates from the past in his first address as a candidate.
Bush’s presence in the race was an immediate worry for Rubio, but to his fortune the former governor turned out to be an underwhelming candidate who was dominated by Trump and the other outsider candidates.
As Bush sank in the polls, Rubio gained steam, and for a time a three-man race between Trump, Rubio and Ted Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, seemed to be emerging.
Much of the GOP establishment turned to Rubio after Bush dropped out following a disappointing result in the South Carolina primary.
Yet Rubio could not secure victories when he needed them.
He placed a disappointing fifth in New Hampshire’s primary after rival Chris Christie accused him during a debate of being too scripted a candidate, a criticism that resonated with Rubio’s critics.
Rubio’s support for the 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill also haunted him, creating an easy contrast for Trump.
Ahead of Super Tuesday contests on March 1, Rubio made the strategic decision to hurl insults at the real estate mogul in an effort to take him down.
It was a huge miscalculation, and one Rubio later said he regretted.
On Tuesday, he sought to draw attention to the more hopeful aspects of his message.
“From a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done is jump on all those anxieties, to make people angrier and more frustrated,” Rubio said. “But I chose a different route and I’m proud of that. In a year like this, that would be the easiest way to win. But that’s not what’s best of America. It will leave us not just a fractured party, but a fractured nation.”
Rubio won only the Minnesota caucuses on Super Tuesday and failed to earn a single delegate in contests on March 8.
He ends his campaign with just a handful of victories: in Minnesota, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Ahead of the Florida contest, Bush opted not to endorse Rubio — a signal he was not expected to do well.
Mitt Romney, the GOP’s standard-bearer in 2012, hit the campaign trail for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ended up winning his home state.
“While this may not have been the year for a hopeful or optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic about America,” Rubio said.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.