MELBOURNE, Fla. — Marco Rubio on Monday professed confidence in a win in his home state Tuesday in the face of increasingly daunting odds, telling reporters he plans to win the state and carry on with his campaign.
Asked whether the Tuesday vote was “win or go home” for him, Rubio said “we haven’t even analyzed it that way and never have."
“We're scheduled to be in Utah. I plan to be there Wednesday morning and we plan to win tomorrow,” he told reporters after a brief retail stop at a restaurant in Melbourne, Fla.
Rubio pledged, just two weeks ago, to get in his pickup truck and “drive around the country if I have to before I allow the party of Lincoln and Reagan to fall into the hands of a con man.”
The day before the Florida primary, that’s exactly where he found himself — standing on the bed of a pickup truck on Florida’s space coast, telling his supporters to turn out and vote.
“Like always, it comes down to Florida. Tomorrow, this state will elect 99 delegates to one person and I want it to be me, and I need you to help it to be me,” he said.
But those two weeks saw Rubio's support in states across the nation crater as he lost a number of key primary states to frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, failing even to make the threshold for gathering delegates in some states due in part to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's continued influence on the race.
And with a handful of Florida polls out this weekend showing Rubio trailing Trump by double digits, there’s a chance his candidacy might not make it past Florida, and indeed a chance Trump could inch closer to the nomination by winning the state’s 99 delegates.
A failure to win his home state would be devastating to Rubio’s campaign, and would intensify already growing calls for the candidate to drop out of the race and let the anti-Trump vote coalesce around one of the two remaining candidates, Cruz or Kasich.
Rubio's advisers remain hopeful that, like they did in some early contests, late-deciding voters would break in the senator's favor.
Their hopes were buoyed by the controversy surrounding Trump over the violence at his recent rallies, which exploded on Friday when a planned rally in Chicago was disbanded over security concerns.
Rubio has spoken out forcefully against Trump's rhetoric and tone over the past few days, charging that his comments on the stump have spurred his supporters to violence.
On Monday, Rubio again slammed the frontrunner for his tone, telling reporters "I don't think there's anyone in the history of American politics that compares to the vulgarity of a Donald Trump candidacy."
He didn't back down from his commitment to back Trump if nominated, however, though he did repeat comments he made this weekend that supporting Trump is "getting harder every day."