Marco Rubio told a crowd of supporters gathered in in Ponte Vedra, Florida on Tuesday night that he needed their help.
The full results from the night’s four Republican primaries had not yet trickled in, but Rubio knew the results weren’t in his favor. And if the Florida senator was going to have any sliver of hope in winning the GOP nod he would need to pull off a surprise in his home state.
Rubio finished fourth-place in both Michigan and Mississippi, which only added to an ever widening delegate gap between him and front-runner Donald Trump.
“I need your help,” Rubio said, according the Politico. “I believe with all my heart that the winner of the Florida primary next Tuesday will be the nominee of the Republican Party.”
Analysts and observers say that one of Rubio’s main weaknesses in this campaign season is his lack of base support.
The Florida lawmaker has been touted as the most agreeable candidate for Republican voters and the best candidate to go head-to-head with prospective Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But as this 2016 presidential race has shown, core support – like Ted Cruz has with evangelical voters and Donald Trump has with disenfranchised working-class voters – has helped Rubio’s rivals carry most of the states.
“Who has the biggest possibility of beating Hillary Clinton, all the strategists say that Marco has the best shot,” Evelyn Pérez-Verdia, an analyst with Political Pasión, told Fox News Latino. “But at the end of the day he’s going against a movement like we haven’t seen in the U.S. in Donald Trump.”
Rubio, as the “establishment” candidate,” said that instead of winning over a core support group, the candidate has instead cast a broad net in trying to win over everyone. To successfully do this a candidate must have a great deal of political dexterity.
“Not only do you have to stay ‘on message,’ you have to sustain multiple messages to multiple audiences,” Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wrote. “It helps to have surrogates vouching for you to different constituencies, something Rubio didn’t have a lot of until recently. And it helps to have enough media exposure to avoid being typecast in one role, something Rubio hasn’t had all that much of in Trump’s shadow.”
There are others, however, who say that Rubio may have more of a base support than people claim – at least in the Sunshine State.
“He has a big following from the conservative Cuban population because he was partially groomed by them,” Pérez-Verdia told FNL about Rubio. “There are also some pockets that he is reaching out to that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have not.”
Pérez-Verdia added that Rubio has made inroads with Florida’s growing Colombian population thanks to his wife’s roots and also with Venezuelan-Americans after speaking out harshly against the leftist government of President Nicolás Maduro.
One of Rubio’s two primary victories came in Puerto Rico. And Florida has seen its Puerto Rican population skyrocket in recent years as the island’s economic woes continue.
It’s still a longshot for Rubio – the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls from Florida have Trump holding an almost 17 point lead over his rival – but a late surge of campaigning and the support of Latinos, especially those disenfranchised with Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, could shift the state to Rubio.
“You are given an incredible task a week from now, and I need your help,” Rubio told his supporters. “Go and vote now so you can spend the next six days finding other people to vote for me.”
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.