OTR Interviews

Rubio: GOP party can't unite behind Trump as the nominee

GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio goes 'On the Record' on the latest poll numbers before 'Super Tuesday 2', why he feels optimistic and believes the Republican Party can't unite behind Trump


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A brand new Quinnipiac University Poll of likely Florida GOP voters has Donald Trump way ahead. Trump has 46 percent and Senator Rubio has 24 points behind Trump with 22 percent.

And just a short time ago, Senator Marco Rubio went ON THE RECORD.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Greta. Nice to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a big day tomorrow. I'm curious what you think that early voting and absentee voting, what impact it will have on your strategy and your results tomorrow night?

RUBIO: Well, in Florida, every year that's gone by, early voting has been a bigger and bigger part of the electorate. As much as 55 percent of the votes are cast before Election Day. So we think that trend will continue. We will see tomorrow what happens. But we feel really good about the early vote. We've worked it hard and obviously have a lot of strong supporters throughout the state that have already voted.

So, look, I'm doing everything -- the only thing I know how to do is work hard and keep pushing forward with our message and see what it leads to. God's will will be done, but we feel positive about it. We really do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do the polls sort of drag you down? I mean, that's sort of the elephant in the room. Right now, Donald Trump is way up in the polls in Florida. I mean, does that somehow weigh heavily on you or not?

RUBIO: Not on me. First of all, polls this cycle have been crazy and way off both in Michigan, on the Democratic side, Virginia and other places, on the Republican side. Those polls are not accurate. There is not a 20- point gap here going on. But they are irrelevant. I mean, the only poll that matters is the one they take tomorrow when they actually count those votes. And that's the one that I can do something about. And that's what we are working on every day.

We have a -- we've had a very busy 10 days here working as hard as you can imagine. And we feel good about what that is turning into tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you have a close second -- I know you want to win and I know that you are optimistic that you will win. But if it's a close second, let's say you are three points off the first place winner. What does that do to your campaign?

RUBIO: Well, we don't get 99 delegates, which is a ring for Florida is a winner-take-all. This is not proportional. So the winner takes 99 delegates. And I honestly believe that the winner of Florida tomorrow is going to have a real advantage moving forward to getting to the number of delegates you need to get the nomination.

The ideal outcome in this race is to have a candidate that can get to 1,237, 1,237 delegates that the party can coalesce around. The problem we have is that the person closest to that number now, Donald Trump is not someone the party can coalesce around. So it's why you are in this very unusual situation that we now face.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess, I was sort of being polite, sort of casually asking that question. I realize it's winner-take-all in Florida, but what I meant was, you know, are you going to drop out? Are you going to sort of -- if you don't take first place, are you going to tie your horse to John Kasich's card or to Senator Ted Cruz? What's your plan?

RUBIO: Yes, well, our plan is to be in Utah on Wednesday and to continue to campaign hard. I have never said that my campaign is built on the outcome of any specific state, especially the way it's going now. But, you know, with the way it's turning out and all these delegates being apportioned out. So we had a nice win in Washington, D.C. this weekend. And, you know, picked up some more delegates I believe in Wyoming. We anticipate picking up delegates tomorrow in multiple states.

So our plan is to continue to move forward. But right now, to be honest with you, I'm focused 100 percent on doing what I can do over the next 24 hours to make sure that I get these 99 delegates in Florida. It would be a huge boost to our campaign, of course, moving forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said that about coalescing behind Donald Trump. Do you think the party cannot coalesce behind Donald Trump if he is the nominee?

RUBIO: I know we can't for a couple of reasons. One, he's not a conservative. If you took the positions Donald Trump has on policy and his name was John Smith or Ron Williams, whatever you want, he would be called a Rhino. I mean, he would have no chance. It's unbelievable to me that there are people out there, who are lifelong conservative activists and others who somehow find his position on issues acceptable.

The conservative movement has to be about principles, not about how angry or nasty you're willing to be. And he's just not a conservative. And there's no way he will coalesce the party behind him.

We also have a front-runner in the Republican Party that uses profanity, who has offended virtually every group imaginable, who insights, I believe, followers of his at rallies to perhaps take violence and you have seen that even from his own campaign staffers. There is no way in the world that Donald Trump will ever coalesce the Republican Party, and that means if he is our nominee, we lose in November and that to me is unacceptable outcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he is not the only one that has had some protesters. I mean, even you have had some protesters. There is a video from January 4th where you have a little shoving. Not, of course, you don't have thousands in the street in Chicago, but I mean that's part of the, sort of the process when people run for office, you will get a few protesters. That's the First Amendment, rude as it may be.


RUBIO: Oh, absolutely. Yes, Greta, it's not that you don't have protesters. What you have never seen me do is tell my crowd why don't you go ahead and do something to them physical, and if you get charged with a crime, I will pay your legal fees.

What you have never seen me do is talk about how protesters in the good old days used to leave on stretchers. You have never seen me talk in that way, on the contrary. Of course, everyone has a heckler or protestor. By the way, I'm not excusing their behavior, especially what you saw in Chicago on Friday night.

These are radical, left-wing groups, often paid protesters, professional disrupters and this is something you see from the left. So I'm not talking about Chicago. I'm talking about the general tone of the campaign and what it is doing to our country.

Do we really want to live in a country where everybody hates each other? Where we can't have a debate about political issues? Even a passionate debate because everyone literally hates each other. And that's where we are heading now in our discourse and it's just -- it is dangerous for the republic to continue down this road.

Leadership is not about saying whatever is on your mind. Leadership is about leading. About acknowledging people's fears and anxieties, but describing to them how we are going to make it better. Not preying on those anxieties and fears and making them worse so that they will vote for you out of fear.