Despite suspending his campaign, Marco Rubio wants his delegates bound to him going into the convention.
Yesterday, news commentators seemed somewhat surprised at the report that Marco Rubio wants his delegates and sent a letter to the state Republican parties saying so.
At first, one might see the headlines and worry that Marco Rubio has adopted the attitude of John Kasich that he should be appointed the Republican nominee at the convention. But it looks like Rubio’s goal is more reasonable. As Ari Melber wrote for NBC News,
Despite suspending his campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio is attempting to keep every delegate he won while running for president.
The unusual move reflects preparations for a contested convention this summer — and comes as Donald Trump backed away from an earlier pledge to support the Republican party’s nominee if he is treated unfairly after winning more delegates than his rivals.
Rubio aide Alex Burgos told MSNBC that while the Florida senator is “no longer a candidate,” he “wants to give voters a chance to stop Trump.”
When presidential candidates suspend their campaigns, typically their delegates become free to support the candidate of their own choosing at the convention. Rubio, however, has quietly been reaching out to party officials with a different approach.
He is personally asking state parties in 21 states and territories to refrain from releasing any of the 172 delegates he won while campaigning this year, MSNBC has learned.
Trump supporters won’t like this, of course. It will seem odd that stopping the front runner is a way “to give voters a chance.” But clearly, those who voted for Marco Rubio are not fans of Donald Trump. So Rubio’s stated objective is preserving as much of their preferences as he can.
But there is a question of the legitimacy of Rubio’s request to keep his delegates. The Alaska GOP, for example, agreed that the delegates Rubio won will stay bound to him. But their rules say that a candidate’s delegates can be taken from him is he “drops out” before the state convention.
Up until now, a candidate who “suspends” his campaign has been understood to be dropping out. To let Rubio keep his delegates, suddenly “suspending” one’s campaign and “dropping out of the race” are being treated as two totally different things. The rule about what happens to the delegates of a candidate who “drops out” isn’t being applied to Rubio on the grounds that he hasn’t dropped out of the race but merely suspended his campaign.
I suspect that, if Trump tries to bend the rules that much, he will be accused of breaking them.