COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did not walk away with a first place finish in the South Carolina GOP primary, but he says he's still planning to walk away with his party's nomination.
At the time he addressed his supporters in Columbia, Rubio was locked in a virtual tie with Sen. Ted Cruz, with both mean pulling in approximately 22 percent of the vote. Final numbers have since place Rubio in second place by 1,081 votes.
Rubio began his remarks with praise of Jeb Bush, a man Rubio said he admired and said he hoped Bush's service to his country did not end with the suspension of his campaign earlier in the evening.
"Tonight here in South Carolina, the message is pretty clear," Rubio said. "This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century."
Rubio said the time has come, after eight years of failure, to return to the Constitution, to return to free enterprise and to rebuild our military.
Rubio referred to the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, who asked Americans to believe America's best days always lie ahead.
"Ronald Reagan made us believe that it was morning in America again, and it was," he said. "And now the children of the Reagan Revolution are ready to assume the mantle of leadership."
On his rebound from a disappointing performance in New Hampshire, he said he was grateful to South Carolina voters.
"To me, South Carolina will always be a place of new beginnings and fresh starts," Rubio said.
Rubio said primary returns that placed him neck and neck with Cruz took him one step closer to the presidency, adding the race is now down to three candidates.
Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Nikki Haley joined Rubio on the stage to celebrate the results.