Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Rubio Has Another Tough Day, Looks Ahead to Puerto Rico, Fla.

By on March 5, 2016

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., shakes hands at a rally in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Saturday, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Marco Rubio shakes hands at a rally in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Republican Marco Rubio told supporters at a campaign stop in Puerto Rico that he knew this would be the toughest stretch of his campaign for president.

Having lost in several states in Saturday’s nominating contests, Rubio is looking to Puerto Rico for a victory on Sunday. So far, he has only one win out of 18 nominating contests.

Rubio arrived in San Juan Saturday night in an effort to garner the support of the island’s 23 Republican Party delegates for the presidential primaries to be held locally Sunday.

Rubio held a Avoli sports complex in Levittown, Toa Baja, where he spoke mostly in Spanish and repeated that he does not support a restructuring of the island’s debt, adding that the island’s problem is government spending and can only be solved through economic growth. He also said Puerto Rico deserves a statehood referendum.

In addition to Rubio, Sen.Ted Cruz,  businessman Donald Trump and John Kasich will be expecting votes in Sunday’s Republican primary. Delegates will be divided proportionally for those candidates who win at least 20 percent of the votes.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush had ample support in Puerto Rico due to his relationship with local Republicans. Following his withdrawal from the race, the local leadership shifted its support to Rubio’s candidacy.

In addition to local Republican Party Chairwoman Jenniffer González, who is the minority leader of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives; Zoraida Fonalledas, Republican National Committee (RNC) national committeewoman; and former Gov. Luis Fortuño, RNC national committeewoman, have expressed support for Rubio.

Rubio says that the upcoming schedule of primaries is better for his campaign and that the states voting Saturday “have a certain profile” that benefits “other candidates.”

The Florida senator says he still picked up delegates as part of the GOP’s proportional distribution process and now looks forward to the winner-take-all phase of the race that begins March 15.

First up: His home state of Florida, where he again guaranteed victory – despite preference polls showing him trailing GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Rubio’s campaign is rejecting Trump’s call for the senator to get out of the Republican race for president.

Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Conant says, “Trump’s history as a con artist is being exposed. He canceled CPAC today because he’s not a conservative.”

Trump was scheduled to speak on Saturday at the annual gathering of conservative activists in suburban Washington. He instead made a campaign stop in Kansas.

The billionaire businessman won nominating contests in Louisiana and Kentucky. At a news conference, he says Rubio should leave the race. Says Trump, “Marco has to get out of the race. Has to.”

With 123 delegates, Rubio is 252 delegates behind Trump in the race for the 1,237 needed to win the Republican nomination for president.

Conant says, “Trump knows that Marco has the momentum in Florida and is afraid because he knows losing those 99 delegates to Marco will be a turning point in this race.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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