US senator Marco Rubio has dropped out of the presidential race after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Republican front runner Donald Trump in his home state of Florida.
Trump scored a massive win Florida, which he termed as his second home, by gaining the support of 45.5 per cent of the votes counted, while Rubio was a distant second with 27.1 percent of the votes.
Rubio, who had so far won primaries in Minnesota, Puerto Rico and Washington DC and had 163 delegates, was banking heavily on a win in Florida. But Trump’s victory margin of more than 400,000 put curtains down on his presidential ambition.
The 44-year-old was endorsed by maximum number of party leaders, governors, senators and Congressmen. Indian American leaders Bobby Jindal, the former Governor or Louisiana and Nikki Kaley the Governor of South Carolina were among prominent GOP leaders to endorse Rubio.
In his speech in Miami in Florida, Rubio acknowledged that the country is in the middle of a political storm- Tsunami. “America’s in the middle of a real political storm,” he said.
“This is the right way forward for our party, for our country. But after tonight, it’s clear that while we are on the right side this year, we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio said.
“While this may not have been the year for a hopeful or optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic about America,” said the Florida Senator.
Noting that it was “not God’s plan that I be the President in 2016” Rubio urged his countrymen not to give up on the sense of optimism he tried to push.
“I ask the American people do not give into the fear, do not give into the frustration,” he said.
Notably, Rubio is not running for re-election of his Senate seat. His term ends in January 2016. Before dropping out of the race, Rubio did not indicate who he would be supporting for in the Republican presidential race but definitely not Trump.
While he was announcing to drop out of the race, his supporters were saying “No, No, No” and some other asking him to “Go to the Convention.”
Rubio said this was not his time, but would continue to be fighting for the rights of the people of his country.
“I chose a different route, an I’m proud of that.
In a year like this, that would have been the easiest way to win, but that is not what’s best for America,” he said.
“There is nothing more that you could have done,” he told his supporters.
In his impressive speech, Rubio accused the “political establishment” for failing to pay heed to real frustrations from conservative voters.
Rubio said during the beginning of 2007-2008 when the country faced a major economic crisis, voters repeatedly showed their complete disregard for politicians, beginning even before the 2010 tea-party wave that got Rubio elected.
Yet their concerns went unheard, and their leaders need to do better.
“I understand all of these frustrations, and yet when I decided to run for president, I decided to run a campaign that was realistic on all of these challenges.
From a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done in this campaign is to jump on all of those anxieties,” Rubio said.
Rubio said over the last 11 months he has endeavoured to bridge the divide within the Republican party and country.
“Because I know that after eight years of Barack Obama, this nation needs a vibrant and growing conservative movement and it needs a strong Republican party to change the direction now of this country or many of the things that are going wrong in America will become permanent, and many of the things that make us a special country will be gone.
“America needs a vibrant conservative movement but one that is built on principles and on ideas, not on fear, not on anger, not on preying on people’s frustrations. A conservative movement that believes in the principles of our Constitution, that protects our rights and limits the power of government,” Rubio said.
A conservative movement committed to the cause of free enterprise, the only economic model where everyone can climb without anyone falling.
“A conservative movement that believes in a strong national defence and a conservative movement that believes in the strong Judeo-Christian values that are the formation of our nation,” he said amid applause.
Rubio told his supporters that they also need a new political establishment in the Republican party.
“Not one that looks down on people that live outside of the District of Columbia, not one that tells young people that they need to wait their turn and wait in line, and not one that is more interested in winning elections than it is in solving problems or standing by principles.
“This is the campaign we have run. A campaign that is realistic about the challenges we face but optimistic about the opportunities before us. A campaign that recognises the difficulties we face, but also one that believes that we truly are on the verge of a new American century and a campaign to be president that would love all of the American people, even the ones that do not love you back,” Rubio said.
“This is the right way forward for our party. This is the right way forward for our country. But after tonight, it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year, we will not be on the winning side,” he added.