Marco Rubio

At townhall, Rubio says he regrets personal Trump attacks

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio greets supporter Edith Moran at a rally in Hialeah on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio greets supporter Edith Moran at a rally in Hialeah on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Last month, Florida Senator Marco Rubio won plenty of media attention when he went after Republican front-runner Donald Trump's haircut, tan and the size of his, ahem, hands.

But it didn’t appear to win him many votes after his poor showing in Tuesday's primary elections. And on Wednesday he said the personal barbs didn't win him fans at home either.

“The personal stuff, at the end of the day it’s not something I'm entirely proud of. My kids were embarrassed by it and if I had to do it again I wouldn't,” Rubio said during an hour-long townhall session with MSNBC at Florida International University.

However, Rubio, who sat down with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd at FIU’s Modesto Madique campus, defended his attacks on Trump’s character and businesses. And he said while he would still support Trump over the Democratic nominee, he “absolutely” would not campaign with Trump were the polarizing billionaire to win the party's nomination and ask Rubio to join the ticket.

Republican candidate Marco Rubio told supporters in Hialeah on March 9, 2016 that he plans on staying in the race.

“I'm not looking to be anyone’s vice president. I want to be president of the United States or I'll be a private citizen,” he said. “I love public service. It's what I do, it’s not who I am.”

Rubio, who was once a part-time FIU professor, insisted he can still win Florida's 99 delegates and the party's nomination. He called on Floridian supporters of his other presidential rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, to vote for him in Florida if they want to ensure Trump doesn't win the party's nomination.

“In Florida, the only one who has any chance of beating Donald Trump is me. If you don't want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, even if you're a supporter of Ted Cruz, even if you're a supporter of John Kasich, you vote for Marco Rubio,” he said. “A vote for anyone other than me is a vote for Donald Trump. Almost a million votes are in.”

Rubio said little changed when he fared poorly in last Tuesday’s primary elections. He said his campaign has always believed that Florida was critical to his campaign. He attributed some of Trump's lead in Florida — and his own struggles — to the size of the state and a reliance on national media coverage that has given Trump abundant air time and coverage. But the freshman senator said he can still win.

“I've been in tough races before but it’'s an election,” he said. “You better hope your president went through a trial on the campaign because being president is even harder.”

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