Marco Rubio: Ted Cruz is the Only Real Conservative Left in the Presidential Race

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2016   |   11:24AM   |   Washington, DC

Though he stopped short of endorsing pro-life Senator Ted Cruz, pro-life Florida Senator Marco Rubio says ted Cruz is the only real conservative left in the presidential race. Rubio, who suspended his campaign after Tuesday’s primary contests,  praised his conservative rival during a conference call with supporters.

Rubio said he hopes Cruz and pro-life Ohio Gov. John Kasich are able to stop businessman Donald Trump, who says he would defund Planned Parenthood but who has upset pro-life voters with his repeated praise for the abortion business. Rubio said Cruz could be the best option for conservatives.

SIGN THE PLEDGE: I Pledge to Vote for a Pro-Life Candidate for President

Rubio, who dropped out of the race Tuesday after losing his home state of Florida, didn’t endorse any of his former rivals in a conference call with dozens of Minnesota supporters. In the call, he explained his decision to leave the race and why he felt his presidential campaign didn’t do better, and suggested he might run for office again at some point in the future.

He said he saw no real path forward for his campaign after losing Florida and its 99 winner-take-all delegates. He acknowledged he could have stayed in the race with the intention of seeking the nomination at the convention, but said he would have had to run a shoestring campaign with no money to defend himself on the airwaves. Even if he had won the nomination against the odds, Rubio said, the victory could prove pyrrhic.

“Winning a general election with a nominee that a significant percentage of the base thinks stole it, even though you did it through the rules of the RNC, would be pretty much fatal for the party,” Rubio said, though he added that many Republicans will not vote for Trump, either.

But he’s rooting for someone else to stop Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination — someone who can go into the convention with more delegates and a better claim than Rubio believes he would have been able to muster.

He didn’t endorse either Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the two other remaining candidates. But Rubio praised Cruz as “the only conservative left in the race.”

“This is the right way forward for our party, for our country,” Rubio told supporters in Miami Tuesday after suspending his campaign. “But after tonight, it’s clear that while we are on the right side this year, we will not be on the winning side.”

“While this may not have been the year for a hopeful or optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic about America,” he added. “Do not give in to fear. Do not give in to frustration.”

“While it is not God’s plan that I be president this year or maybe ever, and today my campaign is suspended,” he said.

Rubio ran as a strongly pro-life candidates — even saying that babies in cases of rape or incest had a right to life.

“Well, a couple things. Number one, abortion to me is not a political issue. It’s a human rights issue,” he said. “The broader point I’ve made, however, is I believe all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws. That’s what I deeply and personally believe. And I’m not going to change my position on something of — that is so deep in me in order to win an election.”

“But I believe a human being, an unborn child, has a right to live irrespective of the circumstances by which they were conceived. But I personally believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws,” he added.