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Marco Rubio ends presidential campaign after Florida primary loss to Donald Trump

(AP Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio ended his presidential run after losing the primary to frontrunner Donald Trump in his home state of Florida on Tuesday.

Prior to Tuesday, Rubio trailed both Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz in delegates. The loss of Florida’s 99 Republican delegates — which theoretically should have been Rubio’s to lose — was too much for his campaign to take.

Trump tweeted that he had claimed a “massive victory” in Florida nearly an hour before official results came through.

Going into Tuesday, when Florida and four other states — Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio — handed out delegates in the race for the Republican nomination, Rubio needed a big win to keep him in the race.

Prior to Tuesday, Rubio said that he does not have political plans he will pursue.

“I haven’t even thought about what I’m having for lunch today, much less what I’m going to run for in two years or nothing at all,” he told reporters in West Palm Beach this week.

“If I never hold public office again, I’m comfortable with that,” Rubio continued. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen two to four years from now. But I have no plans. No thoughts. No contemplation. No meetings. Nothing about any future political run of any sort.”

Rubio has previously said he would not run for president and the Senate at the same time. The exit from the White House contest next week would give him plenty of time to qualify for another, albeit unlikely, Senate run.

Rubio would also be a prime candidate to run for the open governor’s seat being vacated by the term-limited Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. Such a move would give the senator’s political standing at least a year to recover after a brutal 2016 campaign.

Rubio could, of course, make another run for the White House in 2020 or beyond. The vast majority of recent Republican presidential nominees have not captured the nomination in their first attempts.

Rubio, who turns 45-years-old in May, is the youngest of the remaining four 2016 contenders. His supporters note that Ronald Reagan was 69 when he assumed office.

“People are still getting to know Marco,” said Luis Rodriguez, a longtime Rubio supporter and former vice chairman of the Dade County Republican Party. “He has 20 more years he can run for president. If not now, in 5, 10 or 20 years he’ll be there.”

After a nasty 2016 campaign, however, it’s unclear if Rubio wants to be there.

“Life,” he said Saturday on Fox News, “is about a lot more than politics.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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