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Marco Rubio Ends Presidential Campaign After Losing His Home State

After a double-digit loss to Donald Trump in his home state of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio called it quits on his flagging presidential campaign.
Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA

Senator Marco Rubio ended his presidential campaign Tuesday night after losing his home state of Florida by double digits to Donald Trump.

"After tonight it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side," Rubio said.

"And so 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 have even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is, and all the reason more why we must do all we can to ensure that this nation remains a special place," Rubio added.


Rubio took the stage at his Miami headquarters to thank his supporters and announce he was dropping out of the race, just minutes after the Florida race was called. Results are still rolling in the state, but Rubio currently trails Trump by almost 20 points in the state that he staked his flagging campaign on.

"America needs a vibrant conservative movement, but one that's built on principles and ideas, not on fear, not on anger," Rubio said, in a thinly veiled reference to Trump's campaign.

Donald Trump Earns Huge Victory in Florida

Even though polls showed Rubio trailing Trump by more than 20 points in the latest Florida polls, he said previously on Tuesday that he had no plans on dropping out even if he lost his home state.

"I can't guarantee a win, we expect to win tonight," Rubio had told WDBO radio on Tuesday. He added that he was fully planning on campaigning in Utah tomorrow "irrespective of tonight."

Even though Rubio remained confident until right before Florida was called, it was already clear that his financial backers were not on the same page. His super PAC has not spent any money in any of the next states that are voting, CNN reported, which was a sure sign that his donors may have been ready to call it quits after tonight. The Conservative Solutions PAC, the main group supporting Rubio, sunk nearly $10 million into Florida, more than twice what any other group spent in the state, in an ultimately failed effort to beat Trump.


Most of Florida's elected officials remained neutral toward Rubio leading up to the primary. But some leaders threw their support behind Trump, including Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi, who endorsed Rubio's rival the day before the primary.

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Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the Republican primary race last month, has so far declined to endorse any candidate. Bush met with Senator Ted Cruz, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Rubio last week, in an apparent effort to help them combat Trump. But Bush's failure to get behind Rubio's campaign was almost as much of a slight to the senator as backing one of his opponents. Rubio was his former protége and Bush's brief successor as the Republican establishment's standard-bearer.

Rubio's concession speech, like his campaign, was disrupted by Trump supporters. As the senator addressed his supporters, a heckler shouted: "Trump for president!"

Rubio took the disruption in stride, telling the protester that he wouldn't "get beat up at our event," while his own supporters drowned the man out with shouts of "Marco! Marco! Marco!"

With Rubio out of the race, the Republican primary is now a three-man contest between Cruz, Kasich and Trump. This could benefit Cruz and Kasich the most as they work to prove themselves as the party's best alternative to Trump. And the frontrunner's loss to Kasich in home state of Ohio Tuesday night increases the likelihood of a contested convention in July, providing the best chance for either Cruz or Kasich to win the nomination. Although Trump has nearly 200 more delegates than Cruz and nearly four times as many as Kasich, he is still far from the 1,237 required to win the GOP nomination.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928