The battle among Republican presidential candidates to obtain the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the party’s nomination has been heating up as the race has narrowed to three candidates.
But a major deciding factor in the delegate-awarding process could come down to a candidate who is no longer in the race — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio dropped out of the race in March, but not before securing 171 delegates. It has been unclear what will happen to these former Rubio supporters, but it has been reported that at least 34 of them will not be bound to the Florida senator on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention, according to NBC News.
Advertisement - story continues below
The remaining candidates in the race, businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are free to persuade these 34 unbound delegates, from Louisiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma, to join their teams.
In MN, Rubio's delegates are now unbound, throwing the state back into contention as delegates are elected – https://t.co/yupGiSpoND
— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) April 14, 2016
Rubio had sent a letter to state Republican parties after suspending his campaign, informing them that he wished to keep his delegates bound to him, at least for the first ballot.
This could change the game for either Trump or Cruz, as they have been battling it out for first place in the remaining GOP primaries. With Trump leading Cruz by roughly 200 delegates, Cruz’s best chance at beating his rival is by stopping Trump from winning the first ballot at the convention.
A second or third ballot would allow Cruz to secure the nomination by convincing those who were bound to Rubio on the first ballot to support the Texas senator when they become unbound in later rounds.
The Cruz campaign has already started courting Rubio delegates in case they are needed at the convention.
“Ted could move the country more in the direction Marco wanted to go than Trump wants to go,” a source close to the Cruz campaign told NBC.
Cruz is outmaneuvering Trump in the battle for Rubio’s unbound delegates https://t.co/IQwfvZ5xxH
— HotAir.com (@hotairblog) April 15, 2016
However, the 34 unbound delegates could actually help Trump instead, as he is likely to be very close to the needed 1,237 delegates at the convention. If he were to receive these delegates, it could push him over the magical number and secure his nomination.
It will be interesting, to say the least, to watch over the next couple of months which campaign is able to convince these people to support their candidate.
H/T The Daily Caller
Who do you think the former Rubio delegates will support, Cruz or Trump? Like and share this article on Facebook and Twitter and let us know.
Who do you think benefits most from Rubio’s unbound delegates? Scroll down to comment below.