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Rubio says Romney's rivals should concede the Republican race

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Wednesday urged Mitt Romney's challengers to concede the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

"The folks running against Mitt Romney have admitted that they cannot win the primary … So I do believe now it's time to concede that Mitt Romney has won the nomination and he's going to be the Republican nominee," Rubio said.

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The campaign of Rick Santorum, Romney's top rival, recently released a memo saying the former Pennsylvania senator's best chance to win the nomination would be a floor fight at the Republican National Convention. Another Republican candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has said he's pursuing a "big choice" convention strategy.

The call by Rubio, a Tea Party favorite whose name almost always appears on shortlists for the vice presidential spot on the GOP ticket, comes roughly a week after he endorsed Romney. 

"I think Mitt Romney’s going to be the next president of the United States," Rubio said. "And by their own admission, the folks running against Mitt Romney have admitted that they cannot win the primary, that the only way they can win is a floor fight at the convention, which I think would set us back in terms of our goal of replacing Barack Obama."

Romney surrogates have only recently begun urging Santorum to drop out as speculation mounts about how much longer the former Pennsylvania senator can stay in the race. 

A new poll released Thursday has Santorum trailing Romney in Pennsylvania ahead of that state's primary on April 24. Sources close to Santorum told The Hill the former senator might drop out of the Republican race if it appears he’s going to lose his home state.

Santorum's campaign has stressed that he has no plans to end his campaign. Communications director Hogan Gidley did concede it would be hard for Santorum to stay in the race unless he wins either the Texas or Pennsylvania primary.

Rubio's comments were originally reported by The Shark Tank blog. The reports came the same day that Santorum reportedly met with a number of conservatives to discuss the path forward for his campaign and a possible alliance with Newt Gingrich.