Out of the race doesn’t mean you’re out of the running.
Despite suspending his campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio is attempting to keep every delegate he won while running for president.
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.
For instance, Rubio specifically asked the Alaska GOP to ensure the delegates he won there remain bound to him and to not interpret “suspended” as “drops out”, a decision that would free his delegates to vote however they wished.
This does two things. First, it deprives Trump of the ability to court Rubio delegates making it much harder for him to reach the magic 1,237 needed for nomination. Second, it keeps the Rubio candidacy alive, if on intensive life support, as the GOP looks at abandoning Rule 40 which limits the nominee to candidates who have won eight state primaries or caucuses. Arriving at the caucus with both a bloc of bound delegates and eligibility for the nomination would make Rubio a critical player in a contested convention.