Ted Cruz crushed the Kansas and Maine caucuses on “Super Saturday” while Donald Trump narrowly won the Louisiana and Kentucky prizes. But perhaps the biggest news was Marco Rubio fading in the field to a distant third place, despite racking up major endorsements across the map.
Over the past six weeks, the GOP establishment has moved from denial to anger to bargaining in the stages of grief that have accompanied this outsider election. But with Rubio’s big fade, the Hail Mary of a brokered convention looks even less likely. And what’s left of the party’s center-right is heading for the next stage of depression. A hug and a drink are in order, as their party prepares to be wrested away from reform Republicans.
How bad was it?
Well, their unofficial standard bearer, Marco Rubio, got schlonged.
The Florida Republican—struggling to present himself as the establishment-friendly alternative to Donald Trump—had perhaps his worst night yet, racking up zero wins, and failing to even snag a second-place finish anywhere.
In fact, Rubio finished third in three of the four states contested on Saturday. And with just 8 percent, the Florida senator fell to fourth in Maine—failing to get the minimum 10 percent necessary to win any delegates.
Trump pounced on this, opening his West Palm Beach victory press conference with a call for Rubio to drop out.
“Marco has to get out of the race. Has to,” Trump said.
The math for Rubio isn’t pretty.
There’s now no question that Rubio’s decision to descend to Trump’s level of discourse has been a total failure. The attacks on the size of Trump’s hands, the jokes about him wetting himself, the “con artist” name-calling, have all fallen flat.
And the losses on Saturday could rob his campaign of desperately needed momentum. Rubio has repeatedly stated that he expects to win in his home state of Florida on March 15. And, of course, that’s technically possible. But he has yet to lead in a single public poll of the state. And he doesn’t want to talk about what he’ll do if Florida doesn’t work out.
The billionaire businessman, with the flair of a pro wrestler, said he hoped for a head-to-head match-up with Cruz.
“I would love to take Ted on one-on-one,” he growled. “I want Ted one-on-one.”
If Rubio takes Trump’s advice, then some hot Cruz/Trump one-on-one action could be in our future. Best election ever.
— With reporting by Tim Mak