Florida Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore]’s top campaign spokesman lashed out at CNN on Monday after the network reported that some of the candidate’s advisers are urging him to drop out of the GOP race before next week’s Florida primary because he has little chance of winning.
CNN reported Monday afternoon that while Rubio himself is bullish on his campaign, some of his advisers want him to quit before next Tuesday’s Florida primary because a loss in his home state will tarnish his political career.
“He doesn’t want to get killed in his home state,” one unnamed source told CNN. “A poor showing would be a risk and hurt his political future.”
But Alex Conant, Rubio’s campaign communications director, slammed CNN’s report — and its reporter, Jamie Gangel — just minutes after the initial segment aired.
“CNN is doing a disservice to voters by airing that sort of reporting without even checking with the campaign,” Conant told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“Jamie’s report was utter nonsense,” he added, referring to Gangel. “She did not contact the campaign prior to coming on the show last hour before reporting that.”
“That’s fiction and CNN should stop reporting it.”
Rubio trails GOP front-runner Donald Trump in recent polls. A Quinnipiac poll released late last month had Trump at 44 percent and Rubio at 28. A Monmouth University poll released on Monday showed a narrower gap with Trump at 38 and Rubio at 30.
But even with a win in Florida and its 99 delegates, Rubio would struggle to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination ahead of July’s convention.
The Florida primary, which is open only to registered Republicans, will be held next Tuesday.
Rubio, who many believe is eyeing a run for Florida governor in 2018, is not expected to fair well this Tuesday. Primaries will be held in Michigan, Mississippi, Hawaii and Idaho.
Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who is also a CNN contributor, questioned the claim that some Rubio advisers are eyeing an exit before Florida.
“I must tell you, I have a hard time buying this story,” Navarro said on CNN before Conant’s appearance. “I’ve never heard any consultant that’s actually making money suggest that somebody should get out.”
“I just don’t think Marco puts that much priority on the governor’s race or his political future,” she added.