MIAMI — The super PACs backing Ted Cruz are opting to skip airing television ads in Florida before next Tuesday’s primary, despite the Cruz campaign hyping up its own effort to prevent rival Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio from winning his delegate-rich home state.
“We looked at the numbers, and we decided that Marco Rubio can lose Florida all by himself,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of the Keep the Promise, the multiple super PAC entities backing Cruz. “He doesn’t need our help.”
In the last week, polls out of Florida have consistently shown Rubio losing by sizable double-digit margins to GOP front-runner Donald Trump. A Fox News poll released on Wednesday gave Trump a 43 percent to 20 percent advantage over Rubio.
Despite Cruz settling in at third with 16 percent in that same poll, his campaign has viewed Florida as Rubio’s last gasp in the race and has suggested that a loss for him there would mean the end of his “failing” campaign.
“I don’t think a candidate has a viable path forward if you can’t win your home state,” Cruz told reporters the day he won his home state of Texas.
The super PACs posted several 30-second anti-Rubio spots on YouTube earlier this week, driving speculation that they would soon be placed on Florida TV stations in the final days before the primary.
But instead, Conway said they will invest a “pretty significant buy” of $4 million into Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois — each of which will also vote on Tuesday.
“Rubio is stuck in Florida between now and Tuesday, and Kasich is stuck in Ohio,” Conway noted, giving a nod to Kasich’s own important effort in his home state of Ohio, where neither the super PAC nor Cruz’s campaign intend to put up a fight.
“So we’ll go elsewhere because we’re trying to cover a broader swath of territory — a multi-state contest requires multi-state coverage,” she added.
The official Cruz campaign has also yet to place ads on Florida television despite indicating this week that it would. It’s also come under scrutiny after announcing it would open 10 campaign offices in the state but then photos began circulating online showing no evidence of actual activity.