Third-place GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio racked up his second primary win in Puerto Rico yesterday but faces a do-or-die primary in Florida next week, with second-place contender Ted Cruz trying to muscle him out to become the uncontested establishment-favored rival to rogue front-runner Donald Trump.
“Obviously he has to win Florida if he’s going to have a legitimate shot at the nomination, but you’re also assuming his goal is to win the nomination, not stop Trump,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “If his goal is to stop Trump, then no, I do not see him getting out anytime in the near future.”
Rubio, who was born in Miami to Cuban immigrant parents, will face stiff competition for his home state’s winner-take-all 99 delegates from Cruz — also of Cuban descent — who has been beefing up his network of campaign offices in the Sunshine State in recent days.
O’Connell said it smacks of an attempt by Cruz “to end Marco Rubio before Marco Rubio can actually catch up to him in delegates” in the less evangelical states that lie ahead.
A loss in the Florida’s March 15 primary could lead to Rubio’s campaign contributions drying up, money Cruz likely has his eye on.
“People don’t get out of presidential elections because they don’t see a path forward, they get out of presidential elections because the money dries up,” O’Connell said.