Marco RubioMarco RubioRepublicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's Labor pick Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE declared Saturday night that the Republican presidential contest is now a "three-person race."
Rubio is battling with Ted CruzTed CruzTexas Democrat to challenge Cruz: report The Hill's 12:30 Report THE MEMO: Frustrated Trump looks to turn it around MORE to finish second in the South Carolina primary, with votes still being counted late Saturday night.
"After tonight, this has become a three-person race, and we will win the nomination," Rubio told a cheering, screaming crowd.
Rubio also gave his best wishes to his former mentor in Florida politics, Jeb Bush, who quit the GOP race after finishing in single digits in South Carolina.
"I pray for [Bush] and his family tonight as they move forward in other endeavors in their life,” he said.
"Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of," Rubio added. "He is an extraordinary husband, he is an extraordinary father, he was the greatest governor in the history of Florida."
Rubio, who is now well-positioned to capture many of Bush's supporters and major donors, congratulated his former rival for running a campaign based on ideas.
This was a far cry from complaints that have long emanated from the Rubio camp about the Bush team — and especially his super-PAC Right to Rise — spending millions in a failed attempt to nuke Rubio out of the race.
The Florida senator spoke in South Carolina as if he had achieved victory, despite likely losing by more than 10 percentage points to Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPrices dictate energy supply trends far more than policy Trump, time to end outsourcing ... at the IRS Roger Daltrey: 'Dead dog' would have beaten Clinton MORE.
Rubio was flanked at the celebration by three of the most popular politicians in South Carolina — Gov. Nikki Haley, Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyGowdy: Nunes briefed president on matters 'unrelated' to Russia probe Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Has Putin already won? He divides US intel from political leaders MORE and Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottNew bill does hard job of injecting capital into needy communities A better economic policy Republicans rebuke King for racial remarks MORE.
Rubio said the four of them represented the new generation of conservatism.
"Now the children of the Reagan revolution are ready to assume the mantle of leadership," Rubio said.