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Rubio Suspends Campaign After Trump Takes Florida

Paul Sancya
Marco Rubio suspends his campaign Tuesday night and speaks to supporters at Florida International University.

Republican Marco Rubio of Miami suspended his campaign Tuesday night after losing his home state to Donald Trump.

Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were victors in the Florida presidential primary.

Florida was do-or-die for Rubio. Florida's 99 Republican delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis.

"While this may not have been the year for an optimistic message, I still remain hopeful and optimistic about America," Rubio told his supporters Tuesday evening.

Trump addressed the press at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach mansion.

"Florida is so amazing," he said, citing his victory over three opponents in the state, and pledging that he would build on that victory as the field against him narrows. "We are going to win, win, win and we are not stopping."

Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN
Hillary Clinton takes the stage to address supporters in Palm Beach County Tuesday night.


  Clinton addressed supporters in Florida after she was projected to be the winner in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, all key states.

"Tonight it's clearer than ever that this may be one of the most consequential campaigns of our lifetimes," she said, clearly turning her attention toward Trump. "We should be breaking down barriers, not building walls."

Rubio left the race Tuesday but Ohio Gov. John Kasich's campaign was given a boost when he won his home state.

Kasich praised Rubio, and vowed he would continue his pursuit of the presidency as an alternative to Trump.

"I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land," he said. "We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination."


Bernie Sanders addressed voters and directed his ire toward the current system for financing campaigns.

"That's not democracy. That is oligarchy," he said, speaking of wealthy contributors to campaigns and political action committees. "To my mind, democracy is not complicated — it is one person, one vote."

Sanders vowed to overturn "disastrous" Citizens United Supreme Court decision, move to public funding of elections, and promised to "take on vigorously those cowardly Republican governors who are trying to suppress the vote."


In Lakeland, voter Shirley Jones said she voted for Trump.

"I'm tired of the whole big politics thing. I'm just tired of it. And I'm not a socialist so it's not going to be Bernie," Jones said. "I feel like we elect people and they don't get in there and do what they're supposed to do and they take advantage of the American people and I think, 'Why not give a businessman a try?'"

Trey Reader of Palmetto Bay is a businessman, in import-export. He's also a Republican and said Trump's more extreme positions could cost the party.

Trump "could be great or absolutely a disaster — which I think he'd probably be more of a disaster than anything else," Reader said. He said he cast his vote for Ted Cruz, who has been overtaking Rubio for second place in some recent polls.

"I just think we kind of need to push back to what made this country great, which is staying with the Constitution," Reader said. "And I feel like the government is starting just use powers that they shouldn't have."

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was banking on strong support from older voters and African-Americans to bring her a good share of Florida's 214 delegates over a surging Bernie Sanders, who has showed surprising strength in the industrial Midwest.

Campaigns were working right up to the end to get voters to the polls, which closed at 7 p.m.

  Hillary Clinton volunteers are trying to convince last minute voters to get out to their polling place by calling number by number on little black flip phones. @wlrn A photo posted by Wilson Sayre (@wilsosay) on Mar 15, 2016 at 12:50pm PDT

"As Florida goes, so goes the nation" - Brian Fallon, press secretary for the Clinton campaign

"As Florida goes, so goes the nation," said Brian Fallon, national press secretary for the Clinton campaign. He said Florida was key not only to the nomination but, potentially, in a general election and that their organization for the March 15 vote was a "down payment on the type of investment and campaign presence we would want to have in a general election as well."

While Clinton has been leading in the Florida polls, Sanders' supporters were also out in force. Like Kim Most of Key West, who said she is a former Vermont resident who was already familiar with him and his record.

"He speaks for the people. He would be a great candidate for the environment," she said. "I love his message of unity."

At a polling station in Little Haiti, Linda Joseph said she's glad Sanders has pulled the party to the left — even though she voted for Clinton. And she's also watching the Republican primary, with an eye to electability.

"I so hope Donald Trump will win, because I want to annihilate him in the general election," she said. "I think he has no way. I think it's Goldwater all over again."

Conservative GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater lost in a landslide to incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, in the 1964 Presidential election.

WLRN's Tim Padgett, Rowan Moore Gerety, Wilson Sayre and Nancy Klingener and WUSF's Robin Sussingham contributed to this report.

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