Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, pauses as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., center and Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greet at a break during a Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

At This Point, We Must Rally to Marco in Florida and Then Go Fully Cruz

I am deeply, deeply worried that Marco Rubio’s failure to withdraw after this past Tuesday is going to benefit Trump. Everyone is so focused on the 99 winner take all delegates in Florida, they’re ignoring the 253 other delegates at stake. Marco remaining on the ballot and appearing to be actively campaigning has the strong potential to block Cruz from surpassing Trump on the ballot in those other states while Rubio himself is not otherwise competitive.

I think had Rubio and Cruz united after this past Tuesday and barnstormed across the country, particularly in Florida, the media exposure and campaign messaging could have greatly shifted voters toward Cruz.

But we have to live in the here and now and not in the world of shoulda-coulda. In the here and now, Rubio intends to make a play of it in Florida. His campaign is convinced they have an edge in early voting and will have the edge in day of voting. At this point, every Republican in the country should be supporting his win in Florida.

The Cruz campaign has admitted that their activities in the lead up to this past Wednesday in Florida were a head fake. Subsequently, the Cruz super PACs withdrew their advertising from Florida. The Cruz campaign has not cancelled its previously scheduled event in Orlando for today with Sean Hannity’s program, but is otherwise shifting its event focus to North Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois.

So we now must depend on Rubio to stop Trump in Florida, wish him well, and get it done.

Though there is no publicly declared formal alliance between Cruz and Rubio, the Cruz’s campaign sudden shift to admit it is not contesting Florida is a pretty good signal that they recognize this.

To be sure, Rubio supporters and outside groups supporting him are going to do their best to stop Cruz between now and Tuesday, though the Rubio campaign looks like it will be hands off. There are ugly rumors floating about with hopes that the media will take the bait and the run the stories to throw Cruz off his game. But thus far there is no there, there and the media is not proceeding.

Come Tuesday, if Rubio can take Florida there will be those who tell him to stay in and Rubio has already suggested he will. But as everyone acknowledged on stage last night, there will be no path to victory for him and everyone will need to rally to Ted Cruz to stop Trump.

Those who say Trump with the most votes, but not over 1,237 can be stopped, are failing to consider the ramifications at the convention. Cruz will need to get ahead of Trump in the delegate count for a legitimate nomination. It is completely doable. Rubio’s donors recognize this and are already shifting gears toward both stopping Trump and funding Cruz. The rest of us will need to do so as well.

In Florida, we have no choice now but rally to Rubio and everywhere else and after March 15th, push Cruz ahead of Trump.

We can now stop Trump, but we must all work together.

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Erick Erickson

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