MIAMI (CBSNewYork) — After losing to frontrunner Donald Trump in his home state of Florida, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said he was suspending his campaign in the Republican presidential contest.
“After tonight, it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year, we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio told supporters.
While expressing pride in his efforts, Rubio’s tone was philosophical.
“While it is not God’s plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I’ve even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is,” he said.
Rubio had less-than-flattering words for Trump, and for elements of the conservative movement as well as the Washington establishment as he spoke to his supporters.
He said he recognized the zeal involved in the current election cycle, given that “America is in the middle of a real political storm; a real tsunami, and we should have seen this coming – look, people are angry and people are frustrated.”
Rubio said the easiest course of action would have been to play to voters’ anxieties, but “I chose a different route, and I’m proud of that.”
Without naming Trump, he warned about the direction the presidential contest, and the Republican primary, was taking.
“The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party. It will leave us a fractured nation,” Rubio said. “It’s going to leave us a nation where people literally hate each other because they have different political opinions.”
Rubio blamed Washington insiders and the establishment for what he saw as the failure to achieve any agenda, but he also said the conservative movement had gone far astray.
He said the nation needs a “vibrant conservative movement, but one that’s built on principles and ideas, not on anger, not on fear, not on people’s frustration.”
The Florida senator was even heckled by a Trump supporter during his concession speech.
“Don’t worry, he won’t get beat up at our event,” Rubio said.
Rubio had been desperate for a win in Florida to keep his White House hopes alive, and to complicate Trump’s path to the nomination, CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.
“I think it is important for people to come out and vote. I know you hear that all the time, like, ‘Eat your vegetables,’ but it really matters, it really does in this very unusual election cycle,” Rubio said in an exclusive interview with Lauren Pastrana of WFOR-TV, CBS4 in Miami. “As far as voting for me is concerned, yeah, I would love for people to vote for me. If you’re a Republican, you can vote in the Republican primary today and I can tell you I’m the only one running that gives us a chance to win in November. Donald Trump, if he’s our nominee, is going to be a disaster.”
Rubio had hoped he could win the state if he got a big turnout in South Florida in particular, but his plans did not pan out.
Rubio’s former opponent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, scored his first primary win in Ohio late Tuesday. While he said his own campaign would go on, Kasich honored Rubio in his speech in Berea, Ohio after his victory.
Kasich called Rubio calling “a very, very great, fine and talented United States senator.”
Despite a vicious series of back-and-forth attacks between Rubio and Trump during the campaign in which penis size was once a topic, Trump also had some kind words for Rubio as he spoke in Florida late Tuesday.
“I want to congratulate Marco Rubio on running a really tough campaign. He’s tough, he’s smart, and he’s got a great future – a great future,” Trump said.