The sputtering presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio faces its last stand tomorrow in his home state of Florida — where an upset victory could offer him one final hope of political redemption at a brokered Republican convention.

“I think Sen. Rubio will have a difficult case to make that he should be the nominee if he can’t carry his home state,” said Alex Patton, a GOP strategist and operative in Gainesville, Fla. “I think a loss in Florida is a devastating blow. I think a win will allow him to continue, but it’s with the hope of a brokered convention.”

Polls indicate Trump could be on track to capture four to five of the delegate-heavy states that hold primaries tomorrow — Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois. Rubio is only competitive in Florida; Ohio Gov. John Kasich is neck-and-neck with Donald Trump in the Buckeye State.

Rubio has given his supporters dispensation to vote for Kasich in Ohio as a way to keep delegates from Trump, who needs 1,237 total delegates to seal the nomination and avoid a floor fight at the GOP convention in July.

“He recognizes that he can’t win the nomination,” D.C. Republican operative Ford O’Connell said of Rubio. “The only thing he can do is stop Trump from getting 1,237, conceivably.”

O’Connell noted Rubio — once regarded as the party’s most promising young conservative — suffered from not having a “natural base,” unlike Trump and Ted Cruz, and is likely to see donor funds dry up if he falters in Florida.

Rubio, who picked up 10 delegates in Washington, D.C., Saturday night, spent yesterday firing passionate salvos at the front-runner, warning that Trump is inciting violence against protesters at his rallies.

At a casino rally in Las Vegas last month, Trump pined for “the old days” when demonstrators would be “carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“I’d like to punch him in the face,” he told the crowd when one protester was ejected.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he was concerned someone may die at a Trump rally, Rubio replied, “I’m very concerned.

“Maybe you think it’s a joke, but there are people out there that are not balanced,” he said. “There are people out there that … that are not completely in control of themselves. And they hear something like this from a leader, you don’t know what they’re going to do next. … All the gates of civility have been blown apart, and we have now reached a point where, on both sides, everyone is just saying or doing whatever they want.”

On the same program yesterday, Trump defended the way he’s handled hostile crowds, saying, “I think, in many cases, I do lower the temperature. I tell the police, please take it easy when people are punching the police and trying to hurt people.”


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