Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has ended his campaign for president.
The senator, once hailed as the “Republican savior” for his initial efforts to broaden the GOP to immigrants and young people, suffered an embarrassing defeat in his home state of Florida on Tuesday, one that effectively closed off any path to the required number of delegates needed to secure his party’s nomination later this summer.
Rubio finished in second place, far behind real estate mogul Donald Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) followed in third place, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich coming in last.
“After tonight, it is clear that while we are on the right side this year, we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio said during a press conference in Florida. “While this may not have been the year for a hopeful and optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic for our country.”
The senator further condemned the politics of anger and fear that has consumed the party, blaming the political establishment, which he said “looked down on conservatives as simple minded people,” and took “the votes of conservatives for granted.”
Rubio’s stinging defeat is major blow to the establishment wing of the GOP, which coalesced around the young Florida Republican and his message of generational change as their best opportunity to retake the White House in November. Tuesday’s resounding defeat in Florida also puts Rubio’s political future in jeopardy. He decided early on not to run for reelection for Senate in 2016, and the big loss in his home state could make a gubernatorial run exceedingly difficult.
Rubio entered the GOP presidential primary in April, announcing his campaign at Miami’s Freedom Tower, an emblem of Cuban-American heritage. The eloquent and telegenic senator came out swinging at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as being beholden to the politics of the past.