Over the past few days, many anti-Trump conservative writers have been calling upon Marco Rubio to drop out of the race after having won only two GOP contests and lagging 20 points behind Trump in his native Florida. I have not been among them. I still think Rubio is the most viable Republican candidate in the field. If he should fail, I’d rather see him go down fighting than just give up because Ted Cruz says so.
Rubio explained why he did not drop out of the race after a disappointing night on Tuesday. His wife told him about a old man who recently had surgery and was told to rest. Instead, he has been going outside and holding up a Rubio sign. If that man wasn’t giving up on Rubio then why should he give up on himself?
It certainly didn’t hurt that tonight’s debate (which aired on CNN) took place in Miami. So Rubio did have the wind at his back. Rubio dropped the confrontational tone he had adopted during the last two debates. To be sure, Donald Trump managed to go through the entire debate without using the terms “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted” even once. But with Rubio back in his comfort zone, he managed to make Trump look foolish on the question of his support for neutrality between Israel and The Palestinians and his support for Obama opening up relations with Cuba. He also drew applause for his responses on reforming Social Security, climate change and the VA. It remains to be seen if it will be enough for Rubio to overcome his deficit against Trump in the polls. If Rubio doesn’t, he did give it his best shot.
Ted Cruz was in his usual fine form (despite striking a false note when he said he never supported TPP; he most certainly did). While most restrained, he did offer a sharp critique of Trump whether it was his audiences pledging allegiance to him, his simplistic critiques of China and the Muslim world and his praise of Hillary Clinton’s work as Secretary of State.
John Kasich was his usual “I balanced the federal budget & spent 18 years on the defense committee” self with the hope of being Trump’s running mate. But I have a feeling Trump might go with Ben Carson who will formally endorse him tomorrow.
The toned down Trump spent the evening downplaying his imposition of a 45% tariff on China (which he characterized as merely a threat), his praise for Vladimir Putin & the Chinese crackdown in Tianamen Square (“Strong doesn’t mean good,” he now says) and minimized the violence that has taken place at his rallies though he did say the people removed from his rallies were violent which is absolute rubbish. It would have been nice if Tapper had asked Trump about his campaign manager manhandling a female reporter who tried to ask him a question.
Trump emphasized that Republicans should get behind his movement because it will grow the Republican Party. I suspect that many of the Democrats who voted for Trump in the open primary states will vote for Hillary in November. He concluded that the people who are supporting him love this country. I would say their devotion is exclusively to him. We pledge allegiance to our flag and The Republic for which it stands, not an individual even one as wealth as Donald Trump.
The odds are in Trump’s favor. Buut I did find it curious that Trump said that the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination were arbitrary. That is the sound of a man who doesn’t think he will reach 1,237 delegates and will have to fight it out at the Republican National Convention, a fight he might not win.
But this is still months away. The most immediate question is a very simple one. In five days will Florida voters give Marco Rubio a reprieve?