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Donald Trump Stomps Marco Rubio On Florida Home Turf

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/03/2016 Elise Foley
ATHENA IMAGE © Joe Raedle via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio suffered a crushing defeat Tuesday at the hands of Donald Trump in his home state of Florida, increasing pressure for him to drop out of the race.

 

Businessman Donald Trump won the primary, according to projections.

The results were consistent with polling ahead of the primary that put Trump in the lead. But Rubio had nonetheless insisted he could and would win Florida, which he has represented in the Senate since 2011 and in the state legislature since 2000.

"Tomorrow is the day when we're going to shock the country, and we're going to do what needs to be done," Rubio said at a campaign event on Monday.

He spent considerable time campaigning in Florida ahead of the primary, focusing on winning over voters there rather than in other states that held contests on the same day. Rubio essentially gave up on Ohio's Tuesday primary last week, when his top spokesman said  Rubio supporters in the state should vote for Kasich instead.

Trump's win in Florida was also a loss for Republicans who want to ensure that he doesn't get the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination ahead of the party's convention. Florida is a winner-take-all state, meaning that all of its 99 delegates to the Republican convention will go to Trump.

Rubio said at a debate earlier this month that he would support Trump  if he became the nominee. He gave a shakier answer at an event on Saturday, although he maintained he currently plans to support whoever wins the nomination.

"I still at this moment continue to intend to support the Republican nominee, but it's getting harder every day," he said.

If Rubio does get behind Trump in the general election, he will have to walk back statements like the ones he made Monday, when he told the Guardian that Trump was an "embarrassment" and that the GOP would face consequences if he became the nominee. 

"If we're going to be the party of fear, we're going to spend some time in the wilderness," Rubio said. "If we're the party of fear, with a candidate who basically is trying to prey upon people's fears to get them to vote for them, I think we're going to pay a big price in November and beyond."

   

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