Marco Rubio may have ended his presidential bid, but his supporters aren’t ready for him to entirely give up his presidential hopes.
Since suspending his presidential campaign in March, two websites have popped up in hopes of convincing Republicans to nominate Rubio in a contested convention. OnlyMarco.com went live in March; while NominateMarco.com launched Wednesday.
Both campaigns have the same goals: Stop Donald Trump and convince Republicans to nominate Rubio.
Rubio suspended his campaign on March 15 after a bruising defeat in his home state. Rubio came in second behind Trump in Florida, with 27 percent of the vote. Trump received nearly 46 percent.
The Only Marco campaign launched two weeks later. Nate Fietzer, one of the founders and the campaign’s digital grassroots director, said the response was incredible, with hundreds of people waiting for the launch to see how they could support the movement.
The website is reminiscent of Rubio’s official campaign site. It features Rubio campaign videos, all of which are available on YouTube, and even has a similar font. Fietzer said the group wanted a professional looking site so supporters knew they were serious.
“We wanted to compliment what Rubio has already done,” said Fietzer.
The site is “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” However, Kim Carroll, the campaign manager and spokeswoman for Only Marco, said she’s heard from some of the senator’s family members who “are very excited” by the effort. Carroll served as a regional chair for Rubio’s campaign in Florida.
“I love Marco,” she said.
The campaign has several priorities, but one real goal: “Our first goal is to help stop Trump from getting the number of delegates required,” she said.
That means educating Republicans on how to vote strategically to block Trump. The group uses public polling to determine who has is catching up to Trump in the remaining primary states, and encourages Rubio supporters to vote for that candidate.
For example, supporters in New York are being asked to vote for John Kasich when they head to the polls on Tuesday. Recent polling averages show the Ohio governor in second place in The Empire State.
But if you’re going to try to block Trump’s pathway to the nomination, you need to have a plan for a contested convention. And for Rubio supporters, the Miami Republican remains the most qualified man for the job.
The Only Marco team has asked supporters to sign a letter to Rubio asking him to unsuspend the campaign. As of Wednesday, the organization reported that 2,182 people had signed the open letter.
“It’s been incredible,” said Fietzer.
The Only Marco team isn’t the only group trying to rally support for Rubio ahead of the July convention. More than 2,600 supporters have signed a petition on Change.org started by the Nominate Marco movement.
That petition calls on the Republican Party to request “any and all unbound delegates elect Marco Rubio as our nominee; and be it further resolved the party remove any and all barriers and suspend or eliminate any and all rules that interfere with such ability of said unbound delegates to vote for Marco Rubio as the nominee.”
James Lamb, the spokesman for the Nominate Marco movement, launched NominateMarco.com Wednesday. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Lamb is a transportation consultant who bundled donations for Rubio’s presidential bid.
Fietzer called Lamb a good friend, and said their visions are similar. Both groups are hopeful that if there is a brokered convention there will be enough support for Rubio to be the nominee.
“If you listen to all the candidates and the stance of the issues, Marco was the one who was the most reasonable, but he was still a strong conservative,” said Carroll.
If Rubio can’t snag the nomination through a contested or brokered convention, the Only Marco team would “support a conservative candidate with the support of Marco Rubio that can unify the GOP and the American people.”
But Fietzer isn’t ready to give up yet. He hasn’t talked to Rubio about the movement, but said he thinks Rubio wants to hear from the voters. And Fietzer is ready to back him if he decides to get back in the race.
“I’ve always been a huge supporter,” he said. “I think the greatest thing about Marco Rubio is he inspires me.”