Politics

Who Needs Florida? Marco Has a Bigger Plan

Island boy Rubio keeps eye on prize: Guam, Northern Marianas

Marco Rubio is trailing Donald Trump by 25 points in his home state, but his strategy for winning the Republican nomination doesn’t run through Florida. Or Ohio. That’s been done. Boring.

No, Marco is going a whole ‘nother way in his strategy to collect the necessary 1,237 delegates. So, naturally, he’s keeping his sights squarely on the Northern Mariana. And Guam. And, of course, American Samoa. His plan: Start on the periphery — not just of America, but the world — and work his way back onto the U.S. mainland.

It’s a solid plan. Iowa didn’t like him; New Hampshire said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” He’s just not catching on here on the continent. In fact, every state has shot him down except Minnesota — and Puerto Rico.

OK, Puerto Rico isn’t a state. It’s just a territory, but it really wants to be a state — almost as much as Little Marco wants to be Big Marco. And Marco locked it down, winning 23 delegates there — just 2 percent of what he needs for the nomination, but even a 10,000-mile journey starts with a single step.

Unfortunately, his island-hopping strategy has hit a rough patch. In Hawaii on Tuesday, he drew just 1,759 votes as Hawaiians said “aloha” to Rubio. He got no delegates there, and he’s limping along now with just 151 delegates to Trump’s 458.

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But that’s a state. Marco’s got his eyes on the territories, like the Virgin Islands. Wait — that didn’t go well, either. While the islanders there love them some Joe Biden — he pops down nearly every winter to sip margaritas by the ocean at a plush resort — Rubio, not so much. In Thursday’s vote, nine delegates were up for grabs. Marco got zero.

But he didn’t really want Hawaii. Or the Virgin Islands. He’s going after the Marianaians. They’re his people.

Their favorite dish? Fruit bat soup — which just happens to Marco’s guilty indulgence, too. Even better, the author of a critical website on the islands, Saipan Sucks, says politics there are “more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties.” That’s right up Marco’s alley.

And after that, Marco will go after the Guamians. He’s wowing islanders by talking about their No. 1 issue — what to do with the invasive rhinoceros beetles that are decimating palm trees there. (For the record, Rubio has a hard-line stance: He’s against the beetles, which he has compared to ISIS.)

Craig Robinson of the Iowa Republican thinks Rubio’s strategy is brilliant.

“For all those calling for Rubio to drop out, I don’t think they really understand how the nomination process works,” he wrote on the website. “We may shrug off his victory in Puerto Rico, but it gives him momentum, and if he can win the three island contests this week, suddenly he’s back in the thick of things.”

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Right back in the game. With a win in Guam. And the Northern Marianas. You can almost hear Donald Trump quaking in his boots.

For those who didn’t pay close attention during geography class, Guam and the 15-island Marianas chain lie east of the Philippines. About 55,000 people are on the Marianas, 160,000 on Guam.

Guam holds its contest on Saturday; the Northern Marianas on Tuesday, the same day as Florida. The stakes are high: The Northern Marianas will award a whopping nine delegates — winner take all! Guam, too — nine delegates, all to the winner, under a “convention” format. “The 350 or so voting members were selected at the village level,” the Pacific Daily News reported.

It’s unclear how hard Rubio has worked the Marianas, or if he sent some staffers to the villages of Guam to try to lock down the slew of delegates there.

There is a real reason Marco’s working remotely. He’s trying to meet the requirements of Republican National Committee rule No. 40 (b), which stipulates that a candidate must win majorities of delegates in eight states or territories to win the nomination. He’s already got two. If he can lock down Guam, the Northern Marianas —  maybe even the District of Columbia, which has at least a dozen Republicans voting on Saturday — he’ll be halfway there.

Then again, if he loses Guam, and then fails in the Marianas, he might just walk off the coast into the ocean and drop down into the 36,201-foot-deep Mariana Trench.

Or he’ll rally and head to American Samoa. Cuz’ those Roamin’ Samoans are his peeps.

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