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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Floridians ponder contested convention to block Donald Trump



For Marco Rubio and much of the GOP establishment, the goal no longer is to win the Republican nomination. The goal now is to make sure Donald Trump doesn't win the nomination —even if it means a bitterly contested convention fight that could rip apart the Republican Party.

Officially, Rubio insists he will defeat Trump in Florida on March 15 and then continue marching toward the nomination. But the Florida senator's campaign is also quietly telling party leaders that even if Rubio loses his home state a week from Tuesday, he will press forward on a mission to keep Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

"He would be a disaster for America. He would split our party in half," Rubio told reporters on Super Tuesday. "Donald Trump will never have 1,237 delegates and I'm going to campaign as long as it takes. Beyond Florida, I'm going to campaign as long as it takes to ensure that our party does not fall into the control of a con artist."

Panic in the Republican establishment over the growing likelihood that Trump will win the Republican nomination is leading some party leaders, political operatives and activists to start actively preparing for the primary to blow up in a contested national convention in July.

"I strongly believe the establishment will do everything within their power to block Donald Trump from getting the nomination, even if he gets the required number of delegates," said Republican consultant John Patrick Yob, former political director for the presidential campaigns of Rand Paul and John McCain. In 2012, he ran Rick Santorum's convention delegate operations.

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[Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2016 9:48am]


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