MIAMI, FL - MARCH 01: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a rally at Tropical Park March 1, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Eyeing a must-win in March 15 primary in his home state of Florida, Rubio held his Super Tuesday night event in Miami. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Undaunted by a string of Super Tuesday defeats, Marco Rubio pledged Tuesday night to campaign for weeks or months if necessary to deny “con artist” Donald Trump the Republican presidential nomination.
Rubio and his family appeared before thousands of supporters around 9 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Equestrian Center at Tropical Park as early returns showed Trump racking up a string of victories and strengthening his commanding lead in delegates needed for the nomination.
But Rubio, who began aggressively attacking Trump during last Thursday’s debate, said his antiTrump offensive was producing results.
“Just five days ago we began to unmask the true nature of the front runner so far in this race. Five days ago we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist. In just five days we have seen the impact it is having all across the country,” Rubio declared.
“We are seeing in state after state – he loves to talk about polls – we are seeing in state after state his numbers coming down, our numbers going up. And two weeks from tonight, right here in Florida we are going to send a message loud and clear. We are going to send a message that the party of Lincoln and Reagan and the presidency of the United States will never be held by a con artist.”
The expectationslowering Rubio campaign didn’t advertise Tuesday night’s rally as a Super Tuesday event but as a “Florida kickoff rally” in advance of the state’s March 15 winnertakeall primary.
“No matter how long it takes, no matter how many states it takes, no matter how many weeks and months it takes, I will campaign as it long as it takes…to ensure that I am the next president of the United States,” Rubio said.
Rubio’s campaign sent out a fundraising email Thursday night titled “the long war on Trump” that urged donors to look beyond the Super Tuesday results.
“No matter where the final results end up tonight, we know one thing: This is going to be a long campaign, and we are NOT going to hand over our party to a dangerous con artist.”
Before Rubio’s arrival, largescreen TVs showed Fox News election night coverage. Cheers erupted at early reports that Vermont and Virginia were too close to call. There were loud boos at images from Trump’s event at MaraLago in Palm Beach.
Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos LopezCantera, an early Rubio supporter, was among those on hand.
Rubio supporters Andreas and Lenys Klumpp of Plantation tried to put the best face on things for their candidate.
“I like how he fired back against Trump,” said Andreas Klumpp, who said he believes Rubio still has time to turn things around.
“Marco’s used to being the underdog,” said Lenys Klumpp. “If anybody can do it, it’s going to be Marco. He’s comfortable in that spot. He’ll make it happen.”