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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio looks to manage a tough Super Tuesday and insists again: 'We're gonna win Florida'

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign rally Tuesday in Andover, Minn.

Jim Mone | Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign rally Tuesday in Andover, Minn.



Marco Rubio continued to keep up an optimistic front Tuesday even as he braced for a rough night.

"I certainly think we're going to do a lot better than we're expected to do tonight," he told reporters on his plane. "Tonight was supposed to be Ted Cruz's big night. I mean, his whole campaign was built on his Super Tuesday strategy. This campaign repeatedly said that tonight, on Super Tuesday, he would wrap up the nomination. He may only win one state tonight, his own home state. And even there he won't take all of the delegates. So, we just feel really good about tonight, getting through what was supposed to be a day that belongs to somebody else."

Rubio's camp has floated all sorts of predictions since Iowa and fallen short. Now the campaign is talking of a long haul and a brokered convention. A reporter asked if Rubio feels "in control of your own destiny here with this primary or do you think you still have a couple things that need to kind of go your way?"

Rubio: "I've said this repeatedly, all these things are in God's hands, God's Will is going to be done. I certainly think all I can do is my best and I think our best is going to be good enough to get to the number we need. I can tell you this for a fact guys, no one is ever going to beg me to get out of this race so we can coalesce around Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is the most unusual front runner we've ever had. He is someone that can't be elected in November. He would be a disaster for the conservative movement. A vote for Donald Trump is literally a vote for Hilary Clinton in November. They are salivating at the prospects of running against him. He would be a disaster for America. He would split our party in half. 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. 

Reporter: How much do your chances in Florida hinge on how well you do tonight? Do you need to post a good chance?

Rubio: "No, we have a great campaign in Florida. Let me tell you something, it doesn't matter who endorses Donald Trump, who lines up with him, these things are not going to influence us moving forward in this campaign anywhere we go. We know our state, I know the state, I know how to win campaigns in Florida, we're gonna do well, we're gonna win Florida, that I'm confident of. But that won't be enough, we've got to keep winning after that as well and we will.

"I think people will be pleasantly surprised. Tonight is supposed to be Ted Cruz's night. It's not going to go as well for him as he had planned. Tonight was a night where this campaign was supposed to end and Ted Cruz would sew up the nomination. Obviously that's not going to happen. But we're going to get a lot of delegates tonight, I mean a lot of delegates. And that really is going to position us strongly to go into next Saturday and beyond."

He was also asked about his insult war with Trump and why he even went down that road.

Rubio: "Sometimes when someone gets out of hand, as he does, someone needs to be reminded that that they too can be attacked and humiliated and mocked. Bullies need to be stood up to and I was proud and happy to do it. But it's not going to change my campaign or what we're about.

"I do think it's important to reveal him for the serious problem, which is that he's a con artist and that he's trying to con the American people into believing that he's this great leader. This is a guy who says he's running agains the politicians, but he says that basically any position he has is negotiable.

"Why doesn't he tell the NYT to reveal the audio recording of the interview he did with them so we can know his real views of immigration? It's just one con job after another, and unfortunately the consequences where he'd carry out this con job is he's going to be the nominee of our party, he's going to define conservatism - and that's going to be a disaster for America."

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 6:22pm]


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