Marco Rubio may have received the third-most votes in Iowa this week, but he won big.

The Iowa caucus was Monday.  Even as votes were being counted, news emerged confirming long-standing rumor that South Carolina Senator Tim Scott would endorse Rubio.

Scott is the first African-American Senator from South Carolina since Reconstruction and his endorsement could swing the state.  According to the Washington Times:

In an interview, Scott explained that, indeed,  he really only had one choice once he had done his due diligence.“When I put together a strong position on national defense and foreign policy, coupled with a compassionate attachment for people to alleviate poverty using conservative principles exclusively, Marco Rubio became the only candidate that I honestly believe can do both,” he said. . . Moreover, his blessing carries more than just symbolic weight because South Carolina is third in line in the presidential nominating process, after Iowa and New Hampshire. Scott is surpassed in popularity only by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) among Palmetto State leaders. In the interview, he acknowledged a “fairly assertive courting process” by the Republican contenders to get his backing.

Rubio is courting Haley as well and may have the inside track.  Haley’s close friend and colleague Nathan Ballentine has been working with Rubio since June and formally endorsed him in January.

Rubio also got Rick Santorum’s endorsement, for what that’s worth, and is looking for more.  The Washington Times reports he “has also focused on winning endorsements from less tenured lawmakers, such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), both of whom were also elected in the 2010 Republican tidal wave.”

Rush Limbaugh joined the chorus praising Rubio, and addressed Rubio’s biggest weakness directly:

“I don’t like this idea that Marco Rubio is all of a sudden being labeled as an establishment candidate,” Limbaugh said, acknowledging Rubio’s bipartisan “baggage” of the 2013 Senate bill on immigration reform.

“Marco Rubio is no moderate, Republican centrist,” Limbaugh said. “I don’t see Marco Rubio as anything other than a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

“Nobody’s pure, and nobody is ever free of making mistakes,” the hard-right host t added.

Limbaugh has also praised Ted Cruz, and wasn’t going so far as to endorse Rubio.  Nevertheless, he clearly recognizes that the Gang of Eight debacle is probably the only thing keeping Rubio from breaking out.  He also recognizes that conservatives refusing to consider Rubio because of the Gang of Eight is a mistake, and refusing to vote for him in the general would be ridiculous.

In any event, Rubio is on a roll.  If momentum means anything, he’s got it, and winning South Carolina would be huge.