As Senator Marco Rubio spoke to more than 300 supporters in Pensacola three days before the Florida Primary that his presidential fate hinges on, his tone was foreboding.
“If Donald Trump is the nominee, he will define conservatism for a generation. When people think, ‘ what does it mean to be a conservative?’ They’ll say, ‘ oh Donald Trump.’ He’s not a conservative,” Rubio told the crowd. “If Trump is the nominee, he’ll lose.”
When a woman in the crowd cried out, “don’t give up!” Rubio responded by saying he’ll never give up because his parents never gave up.
Rubio was originally scheduled to speak at Fish House, a large venue in Pensacola, but stormy weather forced him to relocate to a much smaller venue, the Warf on Palafox Street. Several people were turned away, and dozens more watched the rally from outside in the rain, peering through the glass windows.
Those who came said they hope Rubio can win the Florida primary despite recent polls showing Donald Trump with the lead.
“A lot of those polls are not actual true polls. They’re taken from opinions. They don’t really reflect the true electorate,” said Daniel Kyle, one of the first people in line for the rally.
“I just really believe in him. I know he’s been an underdog before and I think that regardless of what the polls say, I think he’s going to make a strong showing,” said Joy Cawiezell.
Florida has a “winner take all” policy meaning that whoever wins the primary will earn all 99 delegates, and a loss for Rubio would probably mean the end of his campaign. He’s said himself that whoever wins the state will likely win the GOP nomination.
While the speech was far from a concession one, the senator has a tough road ahead of him before Tuesday’s primary in order to overcome the frontrunner.