News and Commentary

WOW: Cruz Tried To Broker Unity Ticket In Primaries, Rubio Turned It Down

For Marco Rubio fans, it might behoove you to know that he was more concerned with his own presidential prospects than stopping Donald Trump from getting the GOP nomination.

According to the new book Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything, written by CNN’s Thomas Lake with reporting from Jodi Enda, Susan Baer and CNN’s political team, prior to the Florida primary, Senator Mike Lee bought an airplane ticket to Miami at his own expense to meet Rubio and discuss the possibility of a Ted Cruz/Rubio unity team.

Literally as Lee prepared to board his plane, Rubio backed out. The authors claim, “Cruz was serious enough about the alliance that he authorized Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to go to Miami ahead of the CNN debate there on March 10 to help work out a deal.”

Lee later explained to CNN, “I think the two of them as running mates would have been unstoppable. They would have united the party.”

Rubio was allegedly considering the idea of a unity ticket with Cruz, according to two sources familiar with the talks. But then, the book notes . . .

“I don’t think I can do this,” Rubio told Lee, “I don’t think I can back out and not be a presidential candidate prior to the primary in Florida.”

According to Politico, Cruz’s team was undaunted by Rubio’s refusal to meet, and conducted polls to see how a pairing of the two candidates would fare in upcoming primaries.

On March 2, the day after Super Tuesday, when Rubio was crushed everywhere, Doug Deason, son of billionaire megadonor Darwin Deason, spoke to Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe. Deason wanted to pitch Rubio’s campaign on the unity-ticket idea. Deason called Marc Short, a senior Rubio adviser, to pitch him the idea.

Deason reported Short said Rubio had no interest. Deason later commented: “Rubio was too pompous to act on it. He believed his own internal polls and there was no swaying him away from staying in the race through the Florida primary. If he had signed on before the first Super Tuesday, Cruz would have won all of the Texas votes and a lot more delegates. They may have very well won Florida.”

“Rubio was too pompous to act on it.”

Doug Deason

Rubio did not drop out; Trump won Florida by 18 points and Rubio immediately exited from the race.