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Interview With Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Cruz Holds 1st Press Conference Since Leaving Race. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired May 10, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: An exclusive interview with Senator Marco Rubio live in studio, his first national TV interview since leaving the presidential race. It's a special Election Day edition of THE LEAD, and it starts right now.

Good afternoon. And welcome to a special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

As two states head to the polls today, brand-new polls show Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running neck and neck in three critical swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Today's Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton with a one-point edge in Florida and Pennsylvania, both within the margin of error. Trump leads Clinton in Ohio by four points.

Interestingly, though the math to get the Democratic nomination is tough for Senator Bernie Sanders, he does do better against Trump in hypothetical matchups in those same three states.

The Republican Party's presumptive nominee is gearing up for a meeting this week with House Speaker Paul Ryan trying to keep it positive with this tweet -- quote -- "I look very much forward to meeting with Paul Ryan and the GOP party leadership on Thursday in D.C. together. We will beat the Dems at all levels!"

And back in the spotlight today, two prominent Trump foes return.

Senator Marco Rubio is here with me in studio for his first national TV interview since leaving the race. I will speak to him in just a second.

Senator Ted Cruz returning to his day job in Washington for the first time since dropping out. Cruz telling talk radio today that the door is kind of open for a return to the race.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If there is a path to victory, we launched this campaign intending to win. The reason we suspended the race last week is, with Indiana's loss, I didn't see a viable path to victory. If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly.

(END AUDIO CLIP) TAPPER: Much more on all of this, including my exclusive interview with Senator Rubio.

But, first, let's go to Sara Murray. She is traveling with the Trump campaign. She is in New York City.

Sara, will these new polls help Trump rally his party, do you think?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think it's really interesting when you look at the numbers, because they show that Donald Trump is actually ahead of Hillary Clinton in Ohio. It shows he's neck and neck with her in Florida and Pennsylvania.

And talking to Republicans today, they said you always -- if you're going to lose, you want to lose and have it be close, because that means that Trump, one, is in the running, he's in the hunt in some of these swing states, which could be a way to bring more Republicans on board who thought he would get slaughtered.

And, two, it means, if he does lose, maybe it will be close enough that that effect doesn't move to down-ballot races. Maybe they will be able to protect their House seats, they will be able to protect their Senate seats. And that has been a big concern from Republicans.

And so I think that you will see the Trump campaign use this as a selling point. I know their aides are very pleased to see that their numbers are so close in these states so far out from November, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much.

And joining me now for his first national TV interview since dropping out of the presidential race in March, Senator Marco Rubio.

Senator, welcome back. Good to see you again.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Thank you. Take it easy on me. I'm rusty.


TAPPER: I will see what I can do. And I know you just got back from a trip to Qatar, Iraq, and Turkey. And I have a lot of questions I want to ask you about that.


TAPPER: But, first, there are a lot of questions about the Republican Party and where it goes from here.

And first and foremost, there is this claim from the Trump campaign that advisers of yours have been pitching you hard to the Trump campaign to be his running mate, that you really want the job, according to these Trump campaign officials, talking about these advisers.

What is your position on that?

RUBIO: Well, it would be impossible, because I don't really have very many advisers around. Our campaign is no longer running. And unless they have been talking to my wife, which is my critical adviser, these days...

TAPPER: Does she want you to be..


RUBIO: Well, I -- like I said yesterday, look, I think Donald has won -- he's won the -- he's the presumptive nominee at this point.

But he would be best served by having someone, not just, by the way, a vice presidential nominee, but active surrogates who agree with him on these issues.

My differences with Donald, both my reservations about his campaign and my policy differences with him, are well-documented. And they remain. And I think he would be best served by having people close to him and his campaign that are enthusiastic about the things he stands for.

TAPPER: You have raised concerns throughout the campaign, ones that you're standing by, about his temperament and about his views on foreign policy, on trade policy and other things.

Would those reservations keep you, do they right now preclude you from endorsing him?

RUBIO: Well, I have said I -- I signed a pledge that said I would support the Republican nominee and I intend to continue to do that.

But we're -- look, here is the situation that we're in. On the one hand, I don't want Hillary Clinton to be the president of the United States. I don't want her to win this election. On the other hand, as I said, I have well-defined differences with the current -- the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

And like millions of Republicans, you try to reconcile those two things. I intend to live up to the pledge that we made. But, that said, these concerns that I have about policy, they remain and they're there.

But I -- that doesn't mean that Donald needs to change his positions in order to get my support or what have you. As I said earlier today, I think he should be true to what he believes in and continue to campaign on those things and make his case to the American people.

TAPPER: But it's not just concerns that you have had about him. You once said that you didn't think it was -- that you had concerns about the fact -- about the nuclear codes being in the hands of an erratic con man. That was what you said.



RUBIO: So, I'm not going to -- here's what I'm not doing to do over the next six months is sit there and just be taking shots at him.

He obviously wasn't my first shot the because I was running for president. He has won the nomination. And now he deserves the opportunity to go out and make his case to the American people. And that's what he's going to do. I don't view my role over the next six months to just sit here and level charges against him.

I know what I said during the campaign. I enunciated those things repeatedly. And voters chose a different direction. I stand by what I -- the things that I said. But I'm not going to sit here now and become his chief critic over the next six months, because he deserves the opportunity to go forward and make his argument and try to win.

TAPPER: But do you understand why millions of people who voted for you and who still see you as the future of the Republican Party wonder, well, if you're standing by saying that you have concern about putting the nuclear codes in the hands of an erratic con man, how do you reconcile that with...

RUBIO: Well, we ultimately live in a republic. And so in a republic, these voters went out and voted.

And through the process set up by the Republican Party, he became our nominee. That's just a fact. He's now the presumptive nominee. That said, It doesn't change what I have said in the past. I stand by those things.

But now he is the presumptive nominee. I don't want Hillary Clinton to win. And I just don't view now the most productive role for me is to be sitting here and be someone that is taking shots at him every day.

TAPPER: Do you want either one of them to win?

RUBIO: Well, I don't want Hillary Clinton to win. And, as I have said, I want to be supportive of the Republican nominee. I signed a pledge that I would do so.

And I think one of the best ways that I can be supportive of the conservative cause is to go out there and work on behalf of those who, for example, are running to hold the Republican majority in the United States Senate or candidates across the country that share my views on national security and on some of these other issues.

And that's where I intend to focus my time.

TAPPER: Do you worry about your colleagues like Rob Portman in Ohio or Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania -- Toomey endorsed you -- individuals who are in blue to purple states, Republicans, who -- and there are a lot of Republicans who think that Donald Trump might be a drag on the ticket.

RUBIO: Well, those were going to be tough races irrespective of whoever the nominee was. Those are difficult states to begin with.

And we haven't won those in presidential races in the past either. So I think you just enunciated in two people, Portman and Toomey, two of our strongest Senate -- senators, two of our strongest candidates.

And so I think irrespective of what happens at the top of the ticket, these are two folks that can be reelected on their own merits.

TAPPER: But focusing on them might be a better service for you to the party, getting them reelected, than campaigning for Donald Trump?

RUBIO: Yes, I think that's where I can be of most use. As I said, I think Donald would be best served by having people out there campaigning on his behalf as surrogates, as his running mate who more fully embrace some of the things he's stood for.

TAPPER: I interviewed Speaker Ryan Thursday, as you probably saw, and he said he couldn't endorse Donald Trump right now. Is that what you're saying, or, no, that's not what...

RUBIO: Well, the difference between Speaker Ryan and myself is, I ran for president. I signed a pledge, put my name on it. And I said I would support the Republican nominee.

And that's what I intend to do. And I think that the best thing I can do to do that, I think, is to support those who are out there running for the conservative cause, whether it's to keep a conservative majority in the Senate or in the House, for that matter, and across the country at different levels.

And what I don't want to do and what I'm not gong to do is sit here for the next six months and, as I said, take shots at the Republican nominee. I ultimately believe he has earned -- and I respect the will of the voters and I believe he's earned the opportunity to go out and make his case to the American people without having people in his own party taking shots at him every day.

TAPPER: I understand that. But it does seem like you're trying to kind of walk this...


RUBIO: Well, it's a very unique situation. And I understand...


TAPPER: Are you going to vote for him?

RUBIO: Well, as I said, I'm going to support the Republican nominee. Yes.

TAPPER: No, you can abide by your pledge, but when you go into the privacy of the voting booth, are you going to pull the...


RUBIO: Well, I intend to support the Republican nominee.


RUBIO: ... entire process.

TAPPER: Including...

RUBIO: Well, I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton.


RUBIO: I'm not throwing away my vote.

TAPPER: But let me talk to you about moving forward.

First of all, what happens to the Republican Party? You saw Paul Ryan say that he can't support him right now. You have seen Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, John McCain not going to the convention. Are you going to the convention?

RUBIO: I don't know. If there is a role for me to play or there's -- I have a lot of people that are going to the convention that are supporters of mine, so there is an opportunity to kind of get together with people and be a part of that.

I haven't made that decision yet. But it wouldn't be because of Donald Trump or in spite of Donald Trump. It would be primarily because I have gone to the last three conventions. I'm an elected Republican at a national level. And so I haven't made that decision yet. But I'm open to going.

TAPPER: What if they said, hey, we will give you a prime-time speaking slot, but you have to give a wholehearted endorsement...


RUBIO: Well, yes, we're getting into hypotheticals. I don't anticipate I will have a speaking slot.

TAPPER: That's not a crazy hypothetical. They would...


TAPPER: ... your support.

RUBIO: Well, again, I don't -- I really haven't thought that far as far as the convention or what my role would be, if any.

But right now, I'm kind of focused on primarily finishing strong in the U.S. Senate, by helping people around the country, and, again, it might make sense to go to the convention. I haven't made that decision yet. Probably should. The airlines are filling up.

TAPPER: You just got back from a trip to Iraq, Turkey and Qatar.

What did you see there? And what is the next president going to face? I know you don't support Hillary Clinton. And I know you don't support the foreign policy world view of Donald Trump. That's what you have said in the past. What are they going to be facing? And are either one up to the job, in your view?


RUBIO: Well, first of all, it's a difficult job, no matter who espouses -- who holds it. And I think that is going to be particularly true six months from now for two different reasons.

In the case of Iraq, it's not just the fight on ISIS. I believe ultimately ISIS will be defeated militarily. But then something will rise to replace it, because the fundamental ingredients that led to the rise of ISIS remain. In the case of Syria, it is a brutal dictator in Bashar al-Assad who is literally massacring people as we speak and has done so for the better part of six years now.

There is no way he will ever govern a unified Syria again. There's just millions of people that have been displaced or killed or had relatives killed who will never, ever see his legitimacy. So there will always be a Sunni resistance to Bashar al-Assad, which means that ISIS will soon be replaced by Jabhat al-Nusra or some other group.

In the case of Iraq, it is a longstanding sectarian fractures that exist in that country that will continue to bedevil, no matter what happens afterwards. The reason why ISIS was so successful coming into Iraq is that Sunni cities viewed them as liberators, at least initially, from the strong hand of the Maliki and the Shia government in Baghdad.

So these are two separate issues, interrelated, of course, but they are complex. The U.S. can't solve all of it. Our goal in the region is to prevent there from being a vacuum which can be filled by radical jihadists, where they can use to then target us for external operations.

And I hope the next president will ramp up the efforts we have taken to provide that level of security, so that those -- so that we can put pressure on these ungoverned spaces and vacuums.

TAPPER: Do you think Mr. Trump is up to the task?

RUBIO: Sure, I would hope so, for the sake of our country. I believe he could, obviously, with the right people around him, can make the right decisions with regards to that.

Obviously, look, in fairness -- and, obviously, as I have stated my differences with him, but, in fairness, he hasn't held public office before. Some of these issues are issues he's learning about for the first time. And my sense is that, as he learns more about them, the way a nominee should and a president will, he will have more information upon which to make decisions on these issues.

TAPPER: I know, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, these issues are very important to you. It's one of the reasons you ran for president. And you are, as your introducer, your moderator at the Hudson Institute today said, a spokesman, they feel articulate, for the conservative internationalist point of view.

Mr. Trump gave a speech a few weeks ago where he talked about a world view that is America first. Did you hear the speech? What did you think of it?

RUBIO: Well, I'm aware of the speech. I didn't hear it in its entirety. I read news reports with it.

It's part of a basic debate that is going on now. We -- America has benefited, in my opinion, greatly from the post-World War II order in which a number of institutions were created around the world that I think have furthered -- it's a two-way street.



RUBIO: Well, like NATO, like the World Bank and the IMF and other institutions that have -- and United Nations has served a utility as well in that process.

And so the point now is, there is this argument being made that American engagement in the world is a one-way street. All we do is give, give, give and we get nothing in return. I believe that is a false argument.

There is no doubt that America gives more than what it has received in many instances, but that's because we are a superpower. But we do benefit from global engagement. What would the world look like today if South Korea had been overrun by the North or South Korea was still governed by military dictatorship and had a Third World economy?

We would not have a strong democratic free enterprise ally in the Asia Pacific region with which we could use to counter the growth of China's influence, not to mention Japan.

TAPPER: But your party...


RUBIO: The same argument can be made in Europe. So I think it's important, those of us who believe in American global engagement, to modernize what that engagement looks like in the 21st century and to make the case to the American people why an inward-looking foreign policy is counterproductive and, quite frankly, very negative for our economy and for our security.

TAPPER: Your nominee, the Republican -- presumptive Republican nominee, doesn't agree with you.

RUBIO: Right.

TAPPER: He has a completely different point of view.


RUBIO: Well, I told you we had policy differences.

TAPPER: I know.

Well, he talked about reassessing the alliance in NATO. He talked about greater nuclear proliferation. South Korea and Japan should get nukes, in his view.

RUBIO: Yes. Well, as I said to you, I have substantial policy differences. And my hope is that he can be persuaded away from those sorts of positions.

As of now, that's not been the case. I think the -- I will continue to make the argument why those are not the right policies. We don't want to see a nuclear arms race in the Asia Pacific region. NATO does serve utility and purpose and I think it is being reinvigorated by the Russian threat and some of the things they have begun to do or have been doing now consistently for five to 10 years in Europe.

So, as I said, look, for those of us who believe in a responsible American global engagement, we now have an obligation to make that argument to American voters at a time when there is a growing sense in the country that perhaps we're doing too much around the world.

TAPPER: You agree with Hillary Clinton more on these issues than you do with Donald Trump.

RUBIO: Well, again, these issues aren't two choices. In essence...


TAPPER: Well, but the election -- but the election is.


Well, but, on foreign policy, the notion that there's only two choices forward are wrong. On the one hand -- so Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state for Barack Obama, who has pursued foreign policies that I have found counterproductive.

[16:15:03] For example, the unwillingness to engage earlier in Syria, when I argued that, if we didn't, the vacuum that would be left behind would be filled by radical jihadists.

TAPPER: But she was -- but she was arguing what you're arguing. She was arguing for arming the rebels. Look -- I don't want -- you're never going to tell me that you endorse Hillary Clinton. I know you oppose her. But I'm just saying your world view on foreign policy is much closer to hers.

RUBIO: Well, but she's not just running for secretary of state. Embedded in her policies will also be a series of domestic policies that I disagree strongly on. For example, I'm strongly pro-life. It's something I deeply feel passionate -- feel passionate about. And on that issue, I'm more aligned with Donald Trump than I am with Hillary Clinton by far. So I think you have to take the package holistically, not just on one given issue..

TAPPER: Fair enough. Going forward, Mr. Trump is going to meet with Republican leaders, including Paul Ryan, on Thursday. What is he going to need to do to get more Republicans on board -- more specifically, what is he going to need to do to get say "I support Donald Trump to be president."? Because you're not saying that. You're saying I signed a pledge, and I will honor the pledge. But you're not saying the words I support Donald Trump.

RUBIO: Let's begin with the premise that this has been a very unusual election cycle, unlike anything we've ever seen before. And so I don't know if there is a well-established road map forward in terms of how to do that.

I think significant public policy differences will remain between now and the election. But I do think it's smart that he's coming to D.C., that he's meeting with the leaders of our party. And I think that's part of that process.

And we'll see where we are in two months, in three months, in four months. I'm not asking him to change his position -- I'd like him to change his position on some issues. But I think he has won the primary based on a given set of things that he has stood for. And my sense is he will continue to stand for those things.

TAPPER: What about his tone and temperament? I know you've objected to many things he's had to say. I don't think you cared for it when he seemed to be making fun of a disabled reporter, I don't think you cared for it when he said prisoners of war -- specifically targeting John McCain, but more broadly -- I like people who weren't captured.

These are the kinds of things that he has been saying. His admirers say he tells it like it is. Just last week, the morning he was about to clinch the whole thing, he started talking a report he saw in "The National Enquirer" suggesting Ted Cruz's father, Rafael, was somehow linked to the Kennedy assassination. I'm guessing you don't believe that that is true.

RUBIO: That I don't believe what's true?

TAPPER: That Rafael Cruz had a role in the Kennedy assassination.

RUBIO: No, of course not. Of course not. But beyond it, I would say to you, look, as I said before, when I ran for president, I had an 11 month campaign. I repeatedly pointed to the differences and that reservations that I had about the way he was conducting his campaign. Those are on the record. They're there for people to see.

My position on those issues are clear, and they remain as I've made abundantly clear today.

TAPPER: But does he need to change his tone? Does he need to -

RUBIO: Look, I think it would make it easier to him to get elected if he did, but ultimately, he's going to -- my sense is he will continue to be who he is. And that's who the Republican voters nominated, and I respect that decision, although obviously it wasn't the one I wanted. And that's the direction we're moving.

TAPPER: When you traveled in Qatar and Turkey and Iraq recently, did you hear from Muslim leaders? Did you hear from Muslim soldiers who were fighting ISIS? Did it ever come up, comments that Mr. Trump made when he proposed for --



RUBIO: I don't think comments -- I think there is a tremendous amount of interest and curiosity in what is happening in American politics. They're following it.

One of the things that I will say, and this is now important now to hear the nominee of the party -- I would say there is now responsibility behind these words and these statements. They're no longer just the statements of one out of 17 candidates or even the leader in the polls. They are the statements of one of two people who are going to be the next president of the United States.

And my sense is that Donald either has or will in time accept the gravity of that. I hope he will. Because it does matter what you say, it does have an impact on what's happening around the world. I heard and perhaps it was just given the setting that we were in, curiosity about the direction, people want to know what's going to happen. But I didn't hear those concern, although they may exist, I didn't hear them.

TAPPER: As a prominent Cuban-American, one of the other concerns that has been voiced by other Republican Latinos is comments Mr. Trump has made about Latinos, specifically about Mexicans. I believe you might have seen his Cinco de Mayo tweet in which he was seemingly trying to make amends. A picture of him with a taco bowl saying "I love Hispanics."

Is that going to be enough?

RUBIO: A tweet?


RUBIO: No. I mean, of course not.

TAPPER: What does he have to do to win over -- to win at least 24, 25 percent of Latino voters?

RUBIO: Yes. Look, I think that like any campaign, Hispanic Americans, first of all, are a diverse group. This notion that there is a Hispanic American bloc that votes monolith is inaccurate.

Second, I think they care about the issues all Americans care about. They're worried about ISIS. They're worried about our safety and security. They're worried about the economy. They're worried about the stagnation of wages. You have to address all of those issues.

There is no doubt that for any group in this country, tone and temperament matters. And that's why I've expressed my reservations about it in the past. So, we'll see what happens over the next few months.

TAPPER: What did you think when you saw the tweet?

RUBIO: I actually didn't see it. I think I was overseas when it went out.

[16:20:01] TAPPER: You didn't see it.

RUBIO: No. I think I was overseas, so I may have missed it.

TAPPER: It was Cinco de Mayo --

RUBIO: I saw it subsequent to. What did I think? I mean, I mostly caught the media chatter about it. And -- after 11 months with this thing, I'm not surprised by anything that comes up on Twitter any more.

TAPPER: I know you wanted to talk about this or at least your campaign, your staffers thought that you might. And that is it's being put out there by the Cruz campaign that they tried to get you to be his running mate earlier in the process, in March. They reached out, and they had polled, and it seemed like a Cruz/Rubio ticket with him at the top of the ticket would have been able to stop Donald Trump and they fault you for not taking that opportunity.

RUBIO: Well, look, I don't know who put that out there. I talked to Ted the day after the Florida primary when I dropped out. He didn't say a word about VP or anything of that nature.

I also quite frankly, think it's an unfortunate story given Carly Fiorina worked really hard for his campaign. She did a lot of hard work. And the story kind of implies that she wasn't their first choice. I think that's unfair to her.

And whoever put that out really was a classless move when it comes to Carly. But I think that story is largely inaccurate in terms of any outreach to me.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, I'm the people who told me the story -- I'm the one who wrote the story -- said that, like they had reached out through emissaries, and it came back to them that you were not interested.

RUBIO: Well, there may be people out there that were talking about it. But I spoke to Ted personally the day after the election, and that topic never came up.

TAPPER: Would it have worked?

RUBIO: I don't believe it would have. I don't think you win by doing those sorts of things.

The bottom line is, whether we like it or not, Donald has been able to tap in a sense in this country of millions of Americans that they're being left behind by massive transitions in our economy, compounded by an economic meltdown in 2008. Compounded by eight years of Barack Obama's policies that have left Americans feeling that America is weaker in the world.

And he was able to tap into that successfully to become the nominee. And, you know, that is the reality of what we face. And I'm not sure after a certain point in this campaign, anything would have stopped that.

TAPPER: Are you saying definitively you would never serve as his vice president if he asked?

RUBIO: Who's that?

TAPPER: Donald Trump, I'm sorry, Donald Trump.


RUBIO: So, no. He needs to appoint someone to be his vice presidential nominee that more fully embraces the things he stands for.

TAPPER: You mean no, you're not interested.

RUBIO: Absolutely. And again, to be frank, I mean, I've never had those conversations with anyone in his campaign. So I'm not saying that anyone has offered it to me or even suggested it for me. I'm just saying to you that I believe he would be best served by someone who more fully embraces the things he stands for, and that is certainly not me.

TAPPER: You are a young man. You are still not going to run for re- election for your Senate seat? It's not too late to file. Filing deadline's in June.


RUBIO: It is to me, yes.

TAPPER: So you're not going to do that? There's still time. You could run for governor in two years, you could run for president in four years. You could become a lobbyist. What is next for you?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to become a lobbyist, and I'm not going run for governor in 2018.

You know, I think I'm going to finish strong here in the U.S. Senate. I love the work I'm doing, and we're going to be able to get some meaningful results before this is all said and done. I care a lot about the Zika issue. I'm disturbed that members of my own party are standing in the way of fully funding a response to what's an emerging public health crisis.

I hope we can get some action on what's happening in Puerto Rico. I will continue to get -- be engaged in these national security issues that await us.

And then, you know, I'll become a private citizen. And I'm looking forward to that. I've always wanted to do things other than politics.

You know, being in public service is what I to I do. It isn't who I am. And I've enjoyed it. I'm open to a future in public service if the right opportunity is there for me and for my family, and it's something I feel passionate about. But I don't have any defined plans beyond January of 2017.

TAPPER: And last question is, how are you doing? I know in one sense, you've gotten to spend more time with your wife and your four kids. So that's probably good. But it's really -- it's rough to lose a presidential election.

RUBIO: Yes, but let's keep perspective here. I just came back from Iraq, where two days earlier, protesters have breached the Green Zone and were trying to beat up parliamentarians in Iraq. So, they don't go to -- they don't -- when we talk about dysfunction and bad politics in Iraq, it's because you might die.

We talk about politics in America, it's you lost an election. You get to go back and work in the Senate and do interviews like this and go on and spend time with your family.

So presidential campaigns, when you run, you know it's hard to win. I feel very proud of the campaign we ran. It didn't have the outcome that I wanted, but I'm proud of the work that we did. And we'll see what the future holds.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

TAPPER: I really appreciate it.

Senator Cruz is speaking live. Let's take it.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: That movement, that energy, that passion is going to continue. The conservative movement I believe will only continue to get stronger.

I recognize a lot of folks in the media, a lot of folks in Washington are eager to right the epitaph of the conservative movement. And I will say I believe that the American people are fed up with the disasters of the Obama/Clinton economy and this movement will continue and I look forward to pressing in the United States Senate for the very same things that I was pressing for in the campaign trail, jobs and freedom and security. Lifting the burdens of Washington on small businesses ands those who are struggling. (CROSSTALK)

[16:25:00] REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) or was there anything else you could have done --

CRUZ: You know, I'm interested in Monday morning quarterbacking. What I can tell you is it was a long and vigorous campaign. We put our all into it. We left it all in the field.

Heidi and I and the girls, we campaigned as hard as we physically could. And the support and energy and passion we saw from the people, I've never seen anything like it. And it gives me great faith in this country. It is why I am fighting, it is why I'm working, it's what I intend to continue working for.


REPORTER: Can you explain what you were talking about today with Glenn Beck about reentering the race if circumstances change?


CRUZ: Listen, listen, we have suspended the campaign because I can see no viable path to victory. Of course, if that changed we would reconsider things.

But let's be clear. We're not going to win Nebraska today. There should be no mystery. No excitement in that. We've withdrawn from the campaign and it's in the hands of the voters.

If circumstances change, we will always assess changed circumstances, but I appreciate the eagerness and excitement of all the folks in the media to see me back in the ring. But you may have to wt a little bit longer.


REPORTER: Will you meet with --

REPORTER: Are you open to being his running mate, sir?



TAPPER: All right. Lots of news going on.

I'm joined by my panel for the rest of the hour. We're going to chew over all of this.

Chief national correspondent and the host of "INSIDE POLITICS", John King, senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, former advisers to four presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, David Gergen, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, former Reagan White House political director, Jeffrey Lord, he's a Donald Trump supporter, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, former special adviser to President Obama, Van Jones, and last but not least, Democratijc strategist Paul Begala.

Thanks one and all to your being here.

Jeffrey, let's me start with you. What we heard from Marco Rubio, he is going to honor his pledge but beyond that, I didn't hear a lot of -- there wasn't a loss of love loss for Donald Trump.


One of the things that I've talked about and calling for a conservative review, went back and took a look at Barry Goldwater losing the nomination in 1962 to Richard Nixon. Somebody nominated him from the floor. He got about 10 or 12 votes. He had to withdraw and give his delegates to Nixon.

And among other things, he said let's grow up, conservatives.

TAPPER: I actually think we have that clip. Can we run that?


BARRY GOLDWATER (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've had our chance. We fought our battles. Now, let's put our shoulders to the wheel of Dick Nixon and push him across the line. Let's not stand back.

Let's grow up, conservatives. Let's -- if we want to take this party back and I think we can somebody, let's get to work.


LORD: I think that applies across the board to everybody. Any one of these people could have won and been this nominee. If Marco Rubio had won, I mean, I think everybody should have been there for him. Donald Trump won, I mean, Ted Cruz could have won. Jeb Bush could have won.

Donald Trump won, so let's take Senator Goldwater's advice and get on with it. There is such a range of talent here that these people should be invited in. You know, the Lincoln team of rivals, et cetera, they can win this thing. Donald Trump is doing very well in these polls in these key states. In my own state of Pennsylvania today, one point behind Hillary Clinton. This is doable.

Senator Rubio has a great future here and I think he is part of the future of the Republican Party. So, this is the moment when you do exactly what Barry Goldwater did it.

TAPPER: Everybody will get to weigh in, but I want to go to Ana just because you are a personal friend of Marco Rubio. And what I sensed from him having covered him now for a long time was he's really torn. He doesn't want to be disloyal, but he does not approve of whom the Republican voters chose.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Marco is one of the most eloquent speakers I have ever met. He speaks two languages. I speak the same two languages, English and Spanish. I had a very hard time parsing what he just said to in you regards to endorsing Donald Trump.

I kept thinking maybe he's talking in code and I'm just not getting the code because you kept asking him the same question and he kept going around in circle, about I'm going to -- I signed the pledge to endorse the nominee. I don't want to endorse or vote for Hillary Clinton. But somehow he couldn't get himself to say I support Donald Trump.

I think, you know, it's pretty obvious that he is wrestling with it and it's because of temperament issues. It is because of ideological. It is because of policy issues. It's the same reason that so many other Republicans are wrestling with this.

I think Marco gave voice to how a lot of Republicans are feeling.