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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As voters go to the polls in Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary, Senator Marco Rubio is optimistic on a make-or-break day for his campaign.
In an exclusive interview with Lauren Pastrana at the CBS Miami studios, the first time Florida senator urged everyone to vote and to hopefully vote for him.
“I think it is important for people to come out and vote. I know you hear that all the time, like eat your vegetables, but it really matters, it really does in this very unusual election cycle,” said Rubio. “As far as voting for me is concerned, yeah I would love for people to vote for me. If you’re a Republican, you can vote in the Republican primary today and I can tell you I’m the only one running that gives us a chance to win in November. Donald Trump, if he’s our nominee, is going to be a disaster.”
Rubio said he is the only one who has a chance of beating the GOP front runner in Florida’s Tuesday primary and he knows it will be a tough race.
“This is an individual who has been vulgar and divisive. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this in the history of American politics. This country deserves better,” said Rubio. “Even if you are thinking about voting for one of the other candidates, Ted Cruz or John Kasich, they’re not even doing campaigning in Florida, they have zero chance to win here. But if you vote for them instead of me, you are in essence voting for Donald Trump.”
Rubio said he’s heard many analysts call Florida’s primary ‘do or die’ or ‘make or break’ for his campaign but he takes a more moderate approach.
“It’s important. I mean Florida awards 99 delegates but ‘do or die’, I’m not going to die if I don’t win, you know, it’s a political campaign. This is not some third world country where if you lose an election you have to go into exile. I want to win. I believe we’re going to win. I still believe that very strongly.”
Rubio said the more Republicans turn out to vote, the better his chances are for winning the state.
“This campaign was never about me, or fulfilling some ambition, it’s about the fact that I honestly believe America has a chance to be better than it has ever been. I think the 21st Century has the chance to be our greatest era ever. But we’re not doing the things that need to be done and we won’t if we elect the wrong person.”
Rubio said he’s so confident about the outcome of the Florida primary, he’s already looking ahead to what’s next.
“What’s next is Utah and Arizona. I think if we win here in Florida today as we expect to, it will give us an enormous boost. All these national pundits expect us to lose. They expected Bernie Sanders to lose Michigan. He was down 20 points in every poll, he wins, it gave him a huge boost. It will give us a huge boost going into Arizona and Utah in what is now a delegate fight at the Republican level. So that’s what we are focused on right now.”
Rubio also believes that he is the one who can unite the Republican party due to the lack of GOP support across the country for Donald Trump.
“I know I can unite the party and I’m doing it in many ways. I don’t think we’ll ever unite under Donald Trump. There’s a significant number of republicans who will never vote for him and that’s one of the reasons he’s guaranteed to lose in November if we nominate him.”
In the past, Rubio has said that he would support the GOP nominee if he doesn’t win but in the last few weeks he has wavered a bit on that stance.
“It’s getting harder every day to keep that pledge if it is Donald Trump. I’m just disgusted by some of the things he’s doing. To be honest, I know people are angry, I know people are frustrated, but leaders don’t take advantage of anger and frustration. They address it and then say here’s how we are going to solve it. He is spurring it on and now we are becoming a country where people hate each other because of politics.”
Rubio acknowledged that there is work to be done within the U.S. government.
“America is not a government. America is a people, the American people. We have a government and our government is broken but our country is still a great country. We have some problems. If we fix them, we’re gonna be greater than we’ve ever been. If we don’t, we’re gonna be the first generation that leaves their kids worse off than themselves. That’s the choice, and I know we’re gonna do the right thing at the end of the day,” said Rubio.
There are some who are saying that the race for the GOP nomination has gotten out of control but Rubio maintains that he has stayed out of the nastiness, for the most part.
“I haven’t been a part of it except for one time and one day and I’ve already said that I would do that differently. But that was one day, Donald Trump has done it for twelve months. It’s not even a fair comparison. I think it’s destructive at the end of the day.”
Rubio said he’s never heard of a major political candidate who encourages violence at this rallies against protesters.
“Where are the limits here. I mean there has there has to be limits to political discourse, you can’t just say anything you want and not believe that it’s not going to have consequences. So I just say is that what we want in our president. I don’t think so and I hope Republicans will realize that when they vote today.”
A recent CBS News poll of likely Republican primary voters showed Trump with 44-percent followed by Senator Ted Cruz with 24-percent and Rubio, running a close third, with 21-percent. The polls margin of error, however, is four point eight percent.
In 11 months, Rubio has gone from a list of nearly two dozen candidates down to a field of. He faced a setback in New Hampshire when Governor Chris Christie called out the senator for repeated rehearsed messages. Rubio also took on Trump by matching Trump’s comments with outlandish comments of his own. It gave Rubio air time, but may have hurt his image.
Three hundred and fifty eight Republican delegates are up for grabs in Tuesday’s primaries in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois; 691 Democratic delegates are on the line.
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