“I will campaign as hard as it takes, I will stay in this race as long as it takes,” Rubio told the crowd. “A con artist will never get control of this party.”
But the Florida senator won’t say which states he plans to win on Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the primary season. Rubio has yet to win a single state, and critics argue Rubio must win at least one of the 11 Republican states voting on March 1 to remain a viable candidate.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Rubio said that he could lose every Super Tuesday state and still win the nomination. In Georgia, he argued he would “continue to work forward irrespective of Tuesday.”
“We feel good about Tuesday. We’re gonna get a lot of delegates on Tuesday. We want to win states on Tuesday. We’re gonna win states after Tuesday,” he said. “I can tell you this, I don’t care about if I have to get in my pickup truck and drive around the country like I did when I ran for the state senate. Donald Trump will never be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”
Rubio has long refused to “play the expectations game” as he puts it. Instead, the Rubio team has repeatedly said that what matters is delegate count.
Rubio maintains that a majority of Republican voters do not want Trump to be the nominee and will support whoever is left standing. He said it might take a "few days" or "weeks" before voters start to coalesce behind him, “maybe not in time for Tuesday” but “certainly in time for the winner-take-all states.”
“That’s where...we’re going to do real well, and we’ll get to the 1,237, [Trump] will not,” Rubio told reporters in Huntsville, Alabama.
“The candidate that’s gonna win this is gonna get that by getting 1,237 delegates. No one’s gonna get that on Tuesday, or the following Tuesday,” said Rubio’s campaign manager Terry Sullivan in Houston after the last GOP debate.
Sullivan said the race would be a “very, very long slog” and the campaign would be ready for anything — contested convention or not — but that the party needed to rally behind Rubio.
“I can’t control when other guys are gonna drop out — I can wish. I can’t control it. And so I’m prepared for if either folks drop out or if they stay in," he said.
Beyond Super Tuesday, many say Rubio’s home state of Florida is a must-win for the junior senator. Rubio won’t say what he’ll do if he loses there — he’s adamant he’ll win.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has said he would drop out if he couldn’t win his home state. Both the Florida and Ohio primaries will be held on March 15. Super Tuesday states include Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
In the last few days, Rubio has campaigned in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota and Tennessee. On Sunday, he held four events alone in Virginia.
He’s also won the endorsements of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.