By Alan Rappeport – – – – –
A day after dropping out of the presidential race, Senator Marco Rubio blamed attack ads and the news media for the fate of his campaign, while suggesting that he is pulling for Senator Ted Cruz to find a way to stop Donald J. Trump.
The Republican from Florida dropped out of the race after losing in his home state on Tuesday. Despite high hopes, he only managed victories in Minnesota, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Speaking with supporters on a conference call late Wednesday, Mr. Rubio lamented that he was unable to turn the tide of the election after disappointing “Super Tuesday” losses on March 1.
“The media kind of just said, ‘Marco Rubio had a terrible night, and it looks like the strongest anti-Trump alternative is Ted Cruz,” Mr. Rubio said, according to a report in The Twin Cities Pioneer Press, which obtained a recording of the call.
Mr. Rubio appeared to still be dumbfounded by his loss in Florida, noting that his campaign’s internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Trump by 5 points and closing in quickly the week before the election. He suggested that the constant commentary about him losing took a toll.
Another obstacle that Mr. Rubio cited was the onslaught of negative advertising from Jeb Bush’s “super PAC” ahead of the Iowa caucuses. While he exceeded expectations in the first nominating contest by finishing third, Mr. Rubio thought he could have won there if not for the blitz of tough ads against him.
As for the future, Mr. Rubio said it would have been a struggle to continue his campaign after the string of losses and warned that it could be dangerous for his party if it appears during the convention that they are stealing the nomination from the most successful candidate (Mr. Trump now holds a clear lead in delegates).
“Winning a general election with a nominee that a significant percentage of the base thinks stole it, even though you did it through the rules of the R.N.C., would be pretty much fatal for the party,” Mr. Rubio said.
Mr. Rubio did not endorse any of his former rivals, but he did si