Rubio: “Never discussed dropping out with anyone on Planet Earth”

posted at 12:01 pm on March 10, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

No one on “Planet Earth,” eh? You know who that leaves, right? In last night’s townhall forum on Fox, Marco Rubio vehemently denied the rumors that he would suspend his campaign, at least not until he has a chance to win his home state of Florida on Super Tuesday next week.

Kelly hits Rubio on his polling almost right off the bat:

According to the Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post, Rubio had a lot to say yesterday about the idea that he’d drop out or team up with Ted Cruz for a “unity” ticket:

Politically wounded by a string of devastating losses in the Republican primaries and caucuses, Rubio returned to his home turf Wednesday afternoon for an outdoor campaign rally where from the outset he had to swat down the possibility that he will end his campaign before Tuesday’s primary.

“Let me tell you something: I will be on that ballot on Tuesday. I will campaign as long and as hard as it takes,” said the senator from Florida, joined onstage by his wife, Jeanette.

Rubio told the crowd to beware of “dirty tricks.” He said if anyone receives phone calls claiming that he is ending his campaign: “You tell them you heard it from me — they are lying to you.”

Rubio blamed the other campaigns and the media for stoking drop-out rumors without naming names. He did mention Ben Carson’s experience in Iowa specifically, however, which is clearly a reference to Cruz and CNN. Still, Rubio tells Kelly when she asks about a “unity ticket” with Cruz (the “Crubio” option) that at some point the Republicans will all team up — but that the time is not now.

On the other hand, Rubio argued that Cruz and John Kasich voters ought to team up with him now in Florida as the only path to denying Trump the 99 delegates from Florida. “A vote for them [Cruz and Kasich] is a vote for Trump,” Rubio tells Kelly. “I’m the only one who can beat Donald Trump in Florida.”

That much is true, if the RCP-listed polls are any indication, but it would still be a reach. Rubio consistently comes in second, but distantly in most polls. Monmouth’s poll last week put Rubio within single-digit range, and that was a voter-file survey, which is more predictive in closed primaries than other polling methods. Today, the Washington Post/Univision poll showed a similar split:

Donald Trump is in a tight contest with Marco Rubio in the Florida senator’s home-state Republican presidential primary, according to a new Washington Post-Univision News poll.

Trump edges out Rubio slightly: 38 percent to 31 percent among likely Republican voters in the Sunshine State. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) places third with 19 percent, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 4 percent. …

Across Florida, Republican support divides along gender, racial and generational lines. Trump holds a double-digit edge over Rubio among white voters (42 to 28 percent), while Rubio leads Trump by 49 to 20 percent among Hispanic Republicans, with Cruz at 20 percent. Trump leads Rubio among older voters, while they are nearly tied among those under age 50 (37 percent for Trump vs. 35 percent for Rubio). And Trump holds a 13-point lead among men (42 to 29 percent) while he and Rubio are about even among female Republican voters, 35 percent for Trump and 33 percent for Rubio.

Worth noting — Rubio performs better among the demographics Republicans need in November to win Florida than does Trump.

It’s too late for Rubio to drop out anyway, since Florida has had early voting open for at least a week, so Rubio has little choice but to let this play all the way out. That’s why no one on Planet Earth has heard Rubio talking about pulling the plug before Tuesday, and why Rubio has to grind it out to the end and hope for a miracle.

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