Rubio on a Romney endorsement "I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone"
February 21st, 2016
12:53 PM ET

Rubio on a Romney endorsement "I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone"

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), joined anchor, Jake Tapper.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Sen. Marco Rubio on State of the Union: Full Interview

CNN ARTICLE: Rubio says he can 'unify' the GOP

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Rubio on a Romney endorsement: [TAPPER] “There's a report this morning that Mitt Romney will endorse you this week.  What would an endorsement from Mr. Romney mean to you?”  [RUBIO]:  “Well, that report is false.  I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone.  We would love to have his endorsement.  We would love to have the help of everyone, because we have got to bring the Republican Party together.  We're not going to win, we're not going to beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders if we're still divided in September and in October.  So, it's important to nominate someone that can bring everyone together, ultimately.  We have to be on the same team.  And it's one of the reasons why I believe I will be the nominee, because I give us the best chance to unify. And, of course, bringing Governor Romney on board would be a part of that.  We would love to have his endorsement, but there's nothing forthcoming.  I don't know where those reports are coming from, but they're false.”

Rubio on results in South Carolina: “Well, first of all, because about 30 percent of the vote is coalesced around one person in Donald Trump. And then the 70 percent that is left over or the 65 percent is divided up among five or six people.  And you do the math fairly quickly, and you realize that, if this was a more traditional or narrower race, the results would be different.  Look, the Democrats have a two-person race.  You only have two choices.  Yesterday, when people went to vote in South Carolina, they had six.  And that really divided up the vote a little bit.  And so that dynamic is beginning to shift.  Obviously, Governor Bush has now suspended his campaign.  Governor Kasich is primarily focused in Michigan.  And so that, I think, is what gives us an opportunity now to begin to bring - coalesce and bring together Republicans who understand that we have to nominate someone who will unify our party, who will reach out to people that haven't voted for us and grow our party and ultimately who can win. Who do the Democrats fear most?  Who do they not want to run against?  I think everyone now acknowledges that that's me.  That's why they spend so much time and money attacking me.

Rubio on the possibility of a brokered convention: [TAPPER] “You said you don't think a brokered convention would necessarily be a bad thing.  Are you OK with primary voters, by plurality, choosing one candidate, but party leaders nominating someone else?”  [RUBIO] “Yes, I'm not sure where I ever said that. I'm not in favor - I'm not saying I'm cheering for a brokered convention.  I think someone on my campaign was asked about its chances, and they said it's possible, especially in an unusual year like this.  I don't think it's likely. I think the voters are going to decide it.  I most certainly don't want party insiders deciding this, because if they had been the ones deciding this nomination, I wouldn't be standing - I wouldn't be here right now doing this interview with you.  I wouldn't even have been in the Senate, for that matter.  They didn't want me in the Senate. So I want the voters to decide and I think the chances that it's going to be decided in the primary process are very high.”

Rubio on Jeb Bush suspending his campaign: [TAPPER] “You had some very gracious words for your fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, who was something of a mentor to you years ago after he dropped out of the race.  Have you spoken with Governor Bush?”  [RUBIO]  “No.  I called him last night.  Obviously he was there with family and friends and others, so we ht had a chance to speak.  But, by the way, my feelings weren't just last night.  Throughout this campaign I've always said very positive and nice things about Governor Bush.  I don't think you'll see a single instance in which I said anything personally negative about him.  And I repeatedly said I wasn't running against him, that I had admiration and affection for him.  That didn't change during this campaign and it's still true now.  I didn't run against Jeb Bush.  I ran for president because I believe that I give our party the best chance to bring our party together, to grow it, to unify our country and to win.  We can't lose this election.  And if you're watching today, ask yourself, who is the person that gives us the best chance to beat the Democrats? Both polling and Democrats will tell you it is our campaign.  And so I hope people will sign up and join our effort at marcorubio.com.” 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let's turn to the heated battle under way between Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

 

Last night, both claimed a victory of sorts, while still falling short to Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  After tonight, this has become a three-person race, and we will win the nomination!

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAPPER:  But can either of the senators take down Donald Trump, as this cowboy campaign heads to the Wild West for the next contest in Nevada?

 

They're both here.

 

Let's start with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

 

Senator, good to see you.  Welcome.

 

RUBIO:  Good to see you.  Thank you.

 

TAPPER:  There's a report this morning that Mitt Romney will endorse you this week.  What would an endorsement from Mr. Romney mean to you?

 

RUBIO:  Well, that report is false.  I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone.

 

We would love to have his endorsement.  We would love to have the help of everyone, because we have got to bring the Republican Party together.  We're not going to win, we're not going to beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders if we're still divided in September and in October.

 

So, it's important to nominate someone that can bring everyone together, ultimately.  We have to be on the same team.  And it's one of the reasons why I believe I will be the nominee, because I give us the best chance to unify.

 

And, of course, bringing Governor Romney on board would be a part of that.  We would love to have his endorsement, but there's nothing forthcoming.  I don't know where those reports are coming from, but they're false.

 

TAPPER:  You came in second in South Carolina.  You had a lot invested in the state.  Every major Republican endorsed you, from the governor to Senator Tim Scott to Congressman Trey Gowdy, and on and on.  Why do you think you didn't win?

 

RUBIO:  Well, first of all, because about 30 percent of the vote is coalesced around one person in Donald Trump.

 

And then the 70 percent that is left over or the 65 percent is divided up among five or six people.  And you do the math fairly quickly, and you realize that, if this was a more traditional or narrower race, the results would be different.

 

Look, the Democrats have a two-person race.  You only have two choices.  Yesterday, when people went to vote in South Carolina, they had six.  And that really divided up the vote a little bit.  And so that dynamic is beginning to shift.

 

Obviously, Governor Bush has now suspended his campaign.  Governor Kasich is primarily focused in Michigan.  And so that, I think, is what gives us an opportunity now to begin to bring - coalesce and bring together Republicans who understand that we have to nominate someone who will unify our party, who will reach out to people that haven't voted for us and grow our party and ultimately who can win.

 

Who do the Democrats fear most?  Who do they not want to run against?  I think everyone now acknowledges that that's me.  That's why they spend so much time and money attacking me.

 

TAPPER:  You have yet to win a single state.  The next contest is Nevada, where you spent part of your childhood.  Can you win in Nevada?

 

RUBIO:  I hope so.

 

We're going to work hard to do it.  Again, we're going into a different dynamic now, because there's less choices.  We think that accrues to our benefit.  And we will see how that plays out.  We're heading there tonight after we make stops in Tennessee and in Arkansas.

 

And people can keep track of our campaign.  They go to our Web site, MarcoRubio.com, and you will see when we're coming to a state near you.

 

TAPPER:  Donald Trump has now won New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 

As I'm sure you know, as a student of history, no Republican has ever won New Hampshire and South Carolina and not gone on to win the nomination.  Why do you think you can stop him?

 

RUBIO:  Because we have never had a race where 15 credible candidates began and where you had so many choices.  There's never been a race like this.

 

You cannot apply the rules of the other races to this one.  I think last night was truly the beginning of the real Republican primary.  We went through the semifinals and the quarterfinals.  And I think you're now down to a core probably of three candidates who are running full-scale national campaigns.

 

And here is where it really begins at this point now, is - and this is where I think the race last night was reset in a way that, quite frankly, I think is going to be very beneficial to our efforts.

 

TAPPER:  You said you don't think a brokered convention would necessarily be a bad thing.

 

Are you OK with primary voters, by plurality, choosing one candidate, but party leaders nominating someone else?

 

RUBIO:  Yes, I'm not sure where I ever said that.

 

I'm not in favor - I'm not saying I'm cheering for a brokered convention.  I think someone on my campaign was asked about its chances, and they said it's possible, especially in an unusual year like this.  I don't think it's likely.

 

I think the voters are going to decide it.  I most certainly don't want party insiders deciding this, because if they had been the ones deciding this nomination, I wouldn't be standing - I wouldn't be here right now doing this interview with you.  I wouldn't even have been in the Senate, for that matter.  They didn't want me in the Senate.

 

So I want the voters to decide and I think the chances that it's going to be decided in the primary process are very high.

 

TAPPER:  You had some very gracious words for your fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, who was something of a mentor to you years ago after he dropped out of the race.  Have you spoken with Governor Bush?

 

RUBIO:  No.  I called him last night.  Obviously he was there with family and friends and others, so we ht had a chance to speak.  But, by the way, my feelings weren't just last night.  Throughout this campaign I've always said very positive and nice things about Governor Bush.  I don't think you'll see a single instance in which I said anything personally negative about him.

 

And I repeatedly said I wasn't running against him, that I had admiration and affection for him.  That didn't change during this campaign and it's still true now.  I didn't run against Jeb Bush.  I ran for president because I believe that I give our party the best chance to bring our party together, to grow it, to unify our country and to win.  We can't lose this election.

 

And if you're watching today, ask yourself, who is the person that gives us the best chance to beat the Democrats? Both polling and Democrats will tell you it is our campaign.  And so I hope people will sign up and join our effort at marcorubio.com.

 

TAPPER:  We've seen the dynamic in this race.  Donald Trump goes after somebody who is not polling as well as him and can destroy that person, whether it is Rick Perry or Lindsey Graham or Jeb Bush.  You're now rising in the polls to a degree.  Are you ready for Donald Trump to come after you?

 

RUBIO:  Yes.  First of all, Donald Trump did attack us.  He attacked us in August, September, October, November.  He was attacking us then and he didn't destroy anybody.  What he's been good at is saying things that are over the top and then the press covers it.  Everybody - you guys like to cover it because it helps with ratings and it's interesting and you can't ignore it, but we're at a different stage now.  I mean, Republicans now have to nominate someone.  We can't lose this election.  If Hillary Clinton is elected or Bernie Sanders, all of Obama's disastrous policies become permanent.

 

I think that's what's going to drive voters from here out.  We have to win.  And I give us the chance to nominate someone.  I am as conservative as anyone in this race.  I have a 15-year record of conservative action that people can look at.  So I didn't just become a conservative two years ago.  But I'm the conservative that can unite our party, grow our party, and win this election.  We have to win.  And if I'm nominated, we will.

 

TAPPER:  Senator Rubio, good luck in Nevada.  We'll see you on the campaign trail.

 

RUBIO:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.

 

###END INTERVIEW###

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