Marco Rubio Campaign Says His Supporters Should Vote Against Him In Ohio

It's all part of a strategy to keep Donald Trump from winning the nomination.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) seemed like buddies at a January Republican presidential debate.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) seemed like buddies at a January Republican presidential debate.
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The campaign for GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is now actively urging Ohio Republicans not to vote for him in the state's primary next week.

Primary voters in Ohio should unite behind the state's governor, John Kasich, if they want to beat overall GOP front-runner Donald Trump, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said Friday on CNN. His was an out-of-the-ordinary comment in an out-of-the-ordinary race that is leaving many Republicans struggling to come up with a plan to avoid Trump getting the nomination.

Attempting to solve the current collective action problem among the non-Trump candidates, the Rubio camp has encouraged Florida Republicans who don't support Trump -- including those who prefer Kasich -- to vote for the senator. Then Rubio supporters in Ohio should vote for Kasich, Conant said.

"My answer is John Kasich is the one candidate in Ohio that can beat Donald Trump," he explained. "That's stating the obvious. If you're a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you don't want Donald Trump to be the nominee, John Kasich is your best bet. If you're a Republican primary voter here in Florida and you don't want Donald Trump to be your nominee, Marco Rubio is your best bet. That is indisputable. Everybody would say that."

In Florida, Rubio is "the only one with a mathematical shot, and if you look at the polls and the early voting, a very good shot, of beating Donald Trump," Conant added.

Polling indicates that Conant is right on at least part of that equation: Rubio isn't going to win Ohio, and Kasich isn't going to win Florida.

Rubio is polling at under 7 percent in Ohio, according to HuffPost Pollster averages, compared to about 35 percent for Kasich, about 30 percent for Trump and about 17 percent for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump is leading Rubio by wide margins in Florida, which also holds its primary on March 15. HuffPost Pollster averages indicate support for Trump at nearly 40 percent in the state, while Rubio is in second at about 27 percent. Cruz has support from 17 percent of Florida Republicans, followed by Kasich at about 10 percent.

Rubio told reporters at a press conference after Conant's comments that he had not talked to Kasich about the matter, but didn't object to the idea of his supporters voting for the Ohio governor over him.

"If a voter in Ohio is motivated by stopping Donald Trump and comes to the conclusion that John Kasich is the only one to beat him there, then I expect that's the decision they'll make," Rubio said. "I can tell you in Florida, I'm the only one that can beat Donald Trump."

Kasich's campaign dismissed the idea of his supporters voting for Rubio in Florida, according to Associated Press reporter Kathleen Ronayn.

Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said the campaign "agree[s] with the Rubio campaign that the best chance to beat Donald Trump in Ohio is by voting for John Kasich, and in that spirit, Sen. Rubio should immediately tell his Super PAC to stop attacking the governor."

Rubio has consistently said he will win Florida, skirting questions about whether he will drop out of the race if he doesn't.

Rubio, Cruz and Kasich all trail Trump significantly in delegates: Trump has 459, Cruz has 360, Rubio has 152 and Kasich has 54. Both Florida and Ohio are winner-take-all states, meaning the winning candidate in each state receives all its delegates. More than 84,000 Ohio Republicans have already cast absentee ballots in the state.

This article has been updated with comment from the Kasich campaign.

Before You Go

Marco Rubio On The Campaign Trail

Popular in the Community