This is how bad things were for Marco Rubio Tuesday night: As the first results came in from Mississippi, Rubio was trailing Ben Carson.
Rubio surpassed the former presidential candidate, but it didn't change the brutal results: Rubio was swamped there and in Michigan. Delegate haul: Zero.
"THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING CAMPAIGN," blared an all-caps tweet from Matt Drudge.
Rubio, who has won only two nominating contests, said it all comes down to his home state. "I believe with all my heart that the winner of the Florida primary next Tuesday will be the nominee of the Republican Party," he said in Ponte Vedra Beach.
But results like Tuesday's only sow more doubt in the mind of voters and gives Donald Trump -- the winner of both big Tuesday events -- more inevitability.
Even if Rubio wins Florida's 99 delegates, the odds are he can't catch Trump, or Ted Cruz.
The instant analysis is that Rubio's bitter standup comedy routine did him in, and certainly it blew up his wholesome image (remember, Trump's penis reference came courtesy of Rubio). But Rubio's problems are deeper -- his desire to be something for all Republicans and his lack of early organization in key states.
Trump celebrated in Jupiter Tuesday night, bizarrely surrounded by his signature steaks, water and wine. He said Rubio had a "tough night," but added, "he's going to have to make his own decision" whether to continue.
--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times