Rubio wins Puerto Rico primary, CNN projects
Rubio, who also won the Minnesota primary on Super Tuesday, has had difficulty transforming himself into a clear alternative to Trump, who is far ahead in the delegate count and in the GOP voter surveys. If no candidate had obtained more than 50%, the 20 delegates were divided proportionally between those who received at least 20% of votes. But unlike the states, Puerto Rico's political parties don't divide on issues such as abortion or the size of government.
The result could be affected by about 6,000 votes cast on Friday by prisoners. The island's three super-delegates have already pledged to support Rubio.
The Rubio campaign rolled out four prominent Central Florida Puerto Rican Republican surrogates Monday, Daisy Lopez-Cid, Dennis Freytas, Luis Martinez and Apopka City Commissioner Diane Velazquez, to spread the word that Rubio is their best choice in Florida. Edwin Mundo, electoral commissioner for Puerto Rico's Republican Party, said budget cuts forced it to reduce the number of polling places to 110 from more than 3,000 in 2012, dramatically reducing turnout. Rubio won over 73 percent of the vote in the island territory, scoring a landslide victory over rival candidates; real estate mogul Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Marco Rubio speaks in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on March 5. He's under pressure from opponents to drop out of the White House race if he fails to win the Florida primary on March. 15. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president. The outright majority gives him all 23 of the Caribbean island's delegates to the Republican nominating convention in July.
With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures are frantically looking for any way to derail Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if no candidate can get enough delegates to lock up the nomination before the party meets in July. But it could be too late, on the calendar or the budget, to build the in-state campaign machines needed to persuade more voters earlier on.
But while Puerto Ricans voted against Trump now, they won't get to vote in the general election, where Trump could find himself, perhaps aided by the Florida result. He also maintained that Puerto Rico should resolve its crippling debt crisis on its own rather than being bailed out by the US Congress, a position he took in September while campaigning in San Juan on the same day as Hillary Clinton.
Billionaire Mr Trump, still the frontrunner in the hunt for delegates, took Louisiana and Kentucky.
Rubio has said he would support Puerto Ricans, if as he believes, they choose to become the 51st state, and would push to make their wishes binding. He has otherwise faced dismal results in 15 states' primaries and caucuses over the past week.