Marco Rubio is laying out his case to Republican voters: Gather around me — or we can’t stop Donald Trump.
There’s a problem, though: He’s still at a loss to actually explain how to get rid of his competitors, and to get all their supporters to flock en masse to him.
Wednesday morning on Fox & Friends, Rubio laid out the stop-Trump argument in the wake of The Donald’s crushing victory in the Nevada caucuses.
“Right now what you have is a situation where the majority of the Republican electorate, the majority of Republican voters in this country, do not want Donald Trump to be the nominee — I think that’s been pretty clear now,” he said. “The problem is that they’re divided up among four people. At some point, in South Carolina, it was five people; before that, it was seven people. So until there’s some consolidation here, you’re not gonna have a clear alternative to Donald Trump.
“And the argument we’ve made is: I’m as conservative as anyone in this race. But I’m the conservative that can unify the Republican Party. You’ve seen it in the last 72 hours, with the number of people that weren’t with me initially — you know, a lot of the establishment people didn’t even want me to run, a lot of them went with Jeb, or whoever — but they’re now all starting to consolidate across the spectrum in this party, with the understanding that if we don’t come together we’re never going to be able to provide a clear alternative to the direction that Donald Trump wants to take the Republican Party and the country.”
At that point, co-host Steve Doocy made a suggestion for how this uniting of the anti-Trump vote could actually take place
“Well, what about this consolidation? You know, now that’s pressure on, for instance, you and Ted Cruz, to somehow unite — to join forces to stop Donald Trump,” Doocy inquired. “Is that a possibility? Because a lot of the experts say without something like that, it’s Trump’s to lose.”
Rubio’s answer: No, it doesn’t work that way.
“Yeah, well, first of all, both Ted and I are running vibrant national campaigns. So the voters are gonna have to provide the consolidation,” he explained. “It’s not gonna be a deal between candidates — and that never happens, and it isn’t gonna happen now. And I think voters are gonna have to start making a choice here, about not just what kind of Republican Party, but what kind of country we’re gonna have in the 21st century.”
Rubio further explored this topic on NBC’s Today show.
“Here’s the bottom-line fact: The vast and overwhelming majority of the Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee. And that’s evidenced by the fact that your own poll last week showed that if it came down to me and Donald Trump, I’d beat him by 16 points. So what we have now is a dynamic where as long as there are four people running — dividing up the non-Trump vote — you’re gonna results like what you saw last night. And so the sooner we can get this race narrowed down, I think the easier it’s going to be to stop Donald Trump.”
Savannah Guthrie had to jump in, and point out the problem with this hypothesis: “Sorry to interrupt, but some candidates have dropped out — and actually what we’ve seen is Donald Trump grow his numbers. I know you say Nevada is an outlier, but he got 46 percent of the vote last night.”
And during an appearance on CBS This Morning, he explained that Trump’s current delegate lead can be overtaken once the race shifts from early contests that mostly allot delegates proportionally, and over to later states that award on a winner-take-all basis. “So I think what needs to happen here is, this race needs to continue to narrow.”
Rubio did not directly state the flip side of this argument: If the field ends up staying splintered, Trump will easily sweep those winner-take-all states, clinching the nomination very quickly.