When Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio finished third in the Iowa caucuses, the media said he was the real winner. His campaign talked of a "3-2-1" strategy in which he'd finish second in New Hampshire and first in South Carolina. Yet he lost both states to Donald Trump, finishing fifth in New Hampshire and second in South Carolina.
Surely, Nevada would be the place he'd win. National Review had called it his "firewall."
Wrong again. Rubio lost the Nevada caucuses Tuesday night. Trump won again, drawing further ahead in the delegate race.
Nevada was supposed to be a key state for the Florida senator. CNN's John King explained the Rubio campaign's plans for the caucus last year:
Plan A: Get at least one win in the first three states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) and then win Nevada as the exclamation point before heading home to the giant Florida GOP primary.
Plan B: Win Nevada after going 0-3 to open the race so that Rubio survives to compete in his home state primary.
Plan A went out the window when Rubio went 0-3 in the first three states. Plan B just died on the Las Vegas strip. Now that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is out of the nomination race, Rubio is the establishment (and media) favorite. But he still hasn't won a single state.
If Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, can't pull out a victory in his home state on March 15, where can he win? Remember, the race for the nomination is really a race for delegates, who pick the party's nominee at its July convention. Florida is a winner-take-all primary: Whoever wins will win all of the state's 99 delegates.
Rubio trails Trump in the polling average in Florida. But he also trails Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. And if second place in Florida gets no delegates, third place gets even fewer.
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.
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