January 31st, 2012
09:19 AM ET
11 years ago

Rubio says Florida winner will clinch nomination

(CNN) - Florida's closely watched junior senator said Tuesday his state's primary election would determine the eventual GOP nominee.

Speaking on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Republican Marco Rubio said he wouldn't handicap the race, but could predict the importance of winning the Sunshine State.

CNN Live: Tune in to CNN on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET for CNN's live coverage of the Florida primary results and follow real-time results on CNNPolitics.com and on Twitter at #cnnelections. Stay up to date with CNN apps for iPhone, iPad, Android or other phones.

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"I'm not going to speculate as to who's going to win," Rubio said. "Here's what I'm comfortable saying. I think the winner of Florida is in all likelihood going to be the nominee of our party. Florida is a mini America. Virtually every issue we want them to be conversant on is a discussion we've had in Florida."

Rubio, who hasn't endorsed a GOP presidential candidate ahead of Tuesday's primary, said his standing relationships with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich prevented him from publicly backing one over the other. Rubio said Gingrich helped him during his time in Florida's state legislature, and Romney campaigned on his behalf in his 2010 Senate bid.

"I have relationships with two of the four candidates," Rubio said. "I know them well. I didn't want to get involved in the endorsement game. None of it will matter at the end of the day. My endorsement won't impact the outcome at the end of the day. Voters will make up their own minds, and we are going to find out tonight what Floridians think."

The onslaught of negative ads in Florida has previewed what's in store during the general election, Rubio said.

"I think that's been a part of every campaign," Rubio said. "Unfortunately, it's only gotten worse. No candidate in American history has ever run more negative ads than Barack Obama. I don't think that will change in 2012. Unfortunately people have to get used to it. I think voters see through that."

Though political observers have pegged Rubio as a strong potential vice presidential pick, the Florida senator reiterated Tuesday what he's said in the past: he isn't interested in being a running mate, and is focused on his work in Congress.

"I'm not thinking about the vice presidency or anything of that nature," Rubio said.

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Marco Rubio
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. StuckInTX

    Oh Lucy, Lucy... too much cool aid. "Mispoke" about a year or two... LOL.. in most folks book that is lying. Period. Of course the GOP is so-o-o focused on getting rid of Obama, that they will all come out and vote for ANY nominee, regardless of what they stand for. What's does truth have to do with it. Oh yes, the party of family values, god and the people. Rubio fits right in.

    January 31, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. June T

    OMG....the GOP is a piece of work. We hear nothing but negativity from the Republician party 24/7...and Rubio has the nerve to say that "no candidate in American history has ever ran more negative ads than Obama." Please, President Obama doesn't have to work that hard to tear down the GOP....their doing a fine job on their own.

    January 31, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Joseph

    Not so StuckInTX. I believe the Republican nominee and his/her Democratic opponent, presumably the sitting President, ought to make a case on the merits as to why I ought to vote for them. There is blanket view of political opposition in this country that is myopic, stultifying, and dangerous. Just because I do not agree with liberals does not make them "bad" by default. I would hope liberals might extend me the same courtesy. We can have a real conversation.

    January 31, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    what happened to whoever wins South Carolina is the GOP nominee? So much for that this time I guess. Anyway why should anyone believe Rubio who said the other day that things have gotten WORSE under the president since he took office. He needs to do a bit of research before he makes such claims or did he just happen to "misspeak" as they like to call untruths nowadays. Just ask some of the people in the auto industry and even some of these CEO's making record profits, and NOT hiring by the way, along with bonuses again if it has gotten worse.

    January 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Joseph

    Sighs. The rhetoric of "Anyone belonging to Party X = horrible, crap, etc." must stop.

    January 31, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. mark

    None of it really matters, both politicians and media alike may pretend to hate each other, but they rely on each other to make sure every state looks like the only state that matters. And they played up the significance of the three previous races too. Wasn't SC supposed to be pivotal? the last straw?

    January 31, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. GOP Hate America

    Im voting for Obama

    January 31, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Joe Blow

    No, Florida isn't a mini America. You have a boat load of geezers and anti-Castro terrorists down there. Rubio is a right wing Republinazi hack whose opinion is worth less than used toilet paper.

    January 31, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Vice of New York

    Yeah, this lying Cuban "son of refugees" is as much a Jaunus-faced pathalogical lier as is Romney. No wonder he's trying to snake-oil and endorsement without actually saying Romney's name. First, this "Cigar Chopper" says his parents were Cuban refugees (not true, they emigrated to the US long before the Castro take-over), then he pushes the FAUX News slime that Obama has made the economy "worse". In fact after three years of decline under draft-dodger George Bush JR, the economy has been in a steady growth since Obama took over. Today the Dow Jones hovers at a healthy 12,000 after the dive it took under papa right-wing authoritarian George Bush Jr.

    Hey Rubio (Red head) – you may be "Latino", but you're not one of us. YOU ARE ONE OF "THEM"

    January 31, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. kerry vincent

    Well I guess since he said it.....then it must be true. Give me a break....the nominee, whoever it is, will not be decided by one state. Rubio is a puppet of Mutton's and we all know how honest Rubio is. We, the people are not stupid however these politicians seem to think we are.

    January 31, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. elBurro

    When I go to Florida, I try to speak their language – it's uh....Spanish. I am not so sure that they are representative of the rest of the nation...

    January 31, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Atlantic1

    Rubio is the worst Florida has to offer. He's not just a liar and opportunist, he's a lot like GW Bush- has a lot of wealth and influence behind him, and will be a puppet for those who mean to harm us. I don't trust this guy at all. He used the strong feelings Floridians have about the Cuban exiles and their plight to his advantage, never mind his family came over way before Castro took over, and pretty much missed the suffering part. In fact, some of his family returned to Cuba, so how bad could it have been for them. I have friends who tell horror stories, and I have compassion and understanding for them. They are angry that Rubio lied and then instead of apologizing made excuses that make no sense.

    January 31, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. BeverlyNC

    Floriida is just the 3rd primary so I think Rubio is trying to pump up his importance far beyond where it is. Romney is an idiot who is a real as store mannequin. He has no personality, no integrity, no ideas, no principles, and who knows what he believes from one day to the next. He is NOT Presidential material on any level. He need to go home and just manage his money. Rubio is not qualified for VP and would just be a very obvious insincere play for a Hispanic vote. Republicans should just stop al the hate and concede President Obama is going to win in a landslide. He is a real leader with great accomplishments that are restoring our country and ALL without one single vote or support of the hate-spewing, lying, racist Republican Congress. Let's send them ALL home so we have real people who take their oath of office to serve the People seriously.

    January 31, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. Bob

    CNN) – Nope, it's not your imagination. The 2012 Republican contest in Florida has been the most negative campaign on record, according to a group tracking political ads in the Sunshine State.

    The analysis from Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) shows a whopping 92% of ads airing in Florida over the past week were negative. The organization said Tuesday that was a record rate for political campaigns.

    Sorry, Rubio, YOU LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 31, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    So we'll know who will lose to Obama in November? Nice.

    January 31, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Voice of Reason

    I think Rubio either overestimates the importance of Florida in the whole primaries process, or he's deliberately trying to pump it up. Either way – i dont think the facts will change. Romney will get the nomination, because Gingrich is on a downhill slide. Romney is not getting out of Florida unscathed, though – because now everyone has seen him as a mean-spirited negative campaigner. He and Gingrich have behaved over the last 10 days like a pair of toddlers in the sandbox fighting over who gets the bucket.

    I think Rubio is simply brown-nosing. Trying to either seem relevant, or vying for a VP slot, or trying to garner support from people other than the Tea Party. It doesnt matter, his days are numbered, too.

    January 31, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Rubio may want to declare Romney the winner.........now that he has shown his own true colors in the race, as to who he supports, but I would disagree that FL is the deciding factor.

    Rubio's choice has been so blatantly dishonest in his attacks on other candidates, and has been such a disappointment to voters in general, that he may fall flat on his face, when the next race comes up, and people don't buy into the negative attacks anymore.

    January 31, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA 2012!!!!!!

    Rubio is chicken. He can cluck about a winner, but won't endorse because his hands might get dirty. Ya! the Tea Party is in the house and is a mouse. The Tea Party is finish!

    January 31, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    @ Lucy....

    I think you need to go back to pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. Why should Obama have to release his college grades? He is the only POTUS that had to release his birth certificate, I don't recall any other even being asked. And as far as hate goes your post spewed of it. Let's let ALL the candidates release their birth certificateds and college transcripts, I don't blame him for not doing it. Did you ask Perry to see his? Jon Huntsman was right when he told Mitt Romney that it's people like YOU that is what is wrong with this country today.

    January 31, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  20. PacificView

    A big state requires big money. The FL primary will be a great filter to assure only well funded candidates can ever have a chance. This is what democracy ha$ become.

    January 31, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. Dennis

    I can't wait until Rubio replaces Biden as vice-president.

    January 31, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. works4me

    Hey Rubio... I have some property on the moon for sale. Get in on the action. Don't be such a Richard Cranium. Stop the pandering...

    January 31, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. WhereIsPalin

    Rubio??!!!? What are his credentials?

    January 31, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  24. works4me

    Yet another GOPuppet. You're learning the GOP ways, boy!

    January 31, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  25. once upon a horse

    @ Dennis....
    sorry but I don't think Obama is going to replace Biden with Rubio....maybe with Hillary Clinton but not Rubio...of course unless you were talking about in 2016.

    January 31, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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