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Rubio Urges Supporters to Stop Trump

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., address the crowd at a campaign rally in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, March 8, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is suggesting that his supporters in the state of Ohio vote for his rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, in order to stop front-runner Donald Trump from winning the state's primary.

"Clearly John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do, and I think if a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that's what they will do," Rubio said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for a presidential candidate to endorse one of his rivals during the national campaign. But the Republican contest has become deeply divisive as front-runner Trump continues to add to his delegate count and his rivals struggle to halt his momentum.

Polls in Ohio show a close race between Trump and Kasich, with Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz trailing far behind. Ohio is one of the biggest contests in Tuesday's presidential primaries, offering 66 delegates with the winner taking all.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at a rally in Traverse City, Mich., March 5, 2016.
FILE - Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at a rally in Traverse City, Mich., March 5, 2016.

Kasich's campaign did not respond favorably to Rubio's comments, with a spokesman saying Kasich will win Ohio without Rubio's help.

Rubio, a senator from Florida, is hoping to beat Trump in Rubio's home state, another big prize in Tuesday's primaries. Florida awards all its 99 delegates to the winner. Polls show Trump leading Rubio in the state.

Rubio suggested Friday that voters in Florida who support Cruz or Kasich should consider voting for him.

"A vote for Ted Cruz or a vote for John Kasich in Florida is a vote for Donald Trump. The only one who has a chance to beat Donald Trump in Florida is me. And any vote that doesn't go to me, in essence, is helping Donald Trump to win the 99 delegates that this state will award to the winner," Rubio said.

Rubio's proposal is similar to what Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has suggested for voters. Romney has said voters who want to prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination should vote for Rubio and Kasich in their respective states.

Besides Florida and Ohio, contests will be held Tuesday in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. The results could give Trump an insurmountable advantage in his quest for the nomination, or give new life to his challengers.