Sen. Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination after losing in his home state of Florida last month, has been extraordinarily silent since his concession speech. But while Rubio’s profile has been lowered, it’s clear that the senator isn’t quite done with the 2016 election just yet. This week, Rubio reached out to 21 states and territories in a bid to keep all of the delegates he won along the way.
“The decision to suspend my campaign for president of the Untied States [sic] is not intended to release any national convention delegates bound to me as a result of the 2016 delegate selection process that took place in your state,” Rubio wrote in a letter to the Alaska Republican Party. “It is my desire at this time that the delegates allocated to me by your rules remain bound to vote for me on at least the first nominating ballot at the national convention.”
In Alaska, Rubio’s five delegates had already been split between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but party chairman Peter Goldberg said he didn’t have any problem accommodating the request. One state down, 20 to go. If the other states follow Goldberg’s example, Rubio will be able to take 171 delegates out of play, which is apparently exactly what he wants. In an interview with MSNBC, Rubio insider Alex Burgos said his boss “wants to give voters a chance to stop Trump.”
The idea is that if Trump can’t lock up 1,237 delegates by the time the Republican National Convention rolls around, delegates pledged to him will be free to vote for someone else on subsequent ballots. Rubio hoarding his delegates could keep Trump from hitting that magic number. Furthermore, it could potentially keep Rubio in play for those later rounds of voting. Most in the Republican establishment would much prefer to award Rubio the nomination over Cruz, and in a year where we’ve even heard talk of Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan being crowned in Cleveland, anything’s possible.
But it’s highly unlikely that even Rubio thinks that’s a viable outcome. It would essentially put him on a path to certain defeat in November and make his future in national politics very uncertain. If Rubio still harbors presidential ambitions, he would do well to regroup and take another shot at it somewhere down the line.