A big get for Rubio
Just ahead of South Carolina’s primary, Governor Nikki Haley will endorse Marco Rubio for president.
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) February 17, 2016
Haley endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, who lost South Carolina’s primary to Newt Gingrich.
The State reports:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will win South Carolina’s most Republican coveted endorsement of the 2016 presidential race when Gov. Nikki Haley announces her support at a Chapin rally on Wednesday evening, a source with knowledge of the governor’s decision told The State.
Haley, the state’s most popular GOP politician in polls, has decided to back the establishment candidate considered to be in best position to challenge Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has shared advice on education issues with the governor and helped her raise money for her re-election bid in 2014, also was considered a top contender to win Haley’s endorsement.
But he has lagged in recent S.C. polls, falling to fifth in the six-candidate GOP field. Rubio sits third.
Haley’s decision was a bit of a reversal in the past day. The governor told reporters Tuesday that she had not made up her mind on who to back in the 2016 race.
She endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. While the former Massachusetts governor won the GOP nomination, he lost the S.C. primary to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, breaking the state’s three-decade streak of voting for the candidate who landed on the November ballot.
Haley has become a favorite to make vice presidential short lists after her handling of last year’s Charleston shooting and successful call to remove the Confederate flag from the S.C. State House grounds. She gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union last month.
The governor’s endorsement comes at a critical time for Rubio.
Senator Cruz was actively vying for Haley’s endorsement:
His may be one of the “angry voices” she criticized last month, but S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s endorsement still matters to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Sources close to both politicians tell us Cruz is making a feverish bid to get Haley to endorse his 2016 presidential campaign – which scored a win in Iowa, a “show” in New Hampshire and is comfortably ensconced in second place in the Palmetto State’s “First in the South” presidential primary behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
Cruz’s backers are telling Haley she has “nowhere else to go” after current GOP establishment favorite Marco Rubio stumbled to a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire.
I am very comfortable fighting this primary against supporters of the Confederate flag. Please talk a lot. https://t.co/6d6OyGvunz
— (((Nathan Wurtzel))) (@NathanWurtzel) February 17, 2016
Rubio now has the endorsements of the big 3 conservatives in South Carolina. This is a huge way to launch the final 72 hours of campaigning.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) February 17, 2016
Gov. Nikki Haley has an 81 percent approval rating among SC Republicans. Her endorsing Marco Rubio is significant.
— Matt Viser (@mviser) February 17, 2016
Sen. Mike Lee will also be campaigning with Rubio.
Inbox: Senator Mike Lee to campaign with Rubio in South Carolina pic.twitter.com/1oZ2V0FZN4
— Mallory Shelbourne (@MalShelbourne) February 17, 2016
Don’t expect any endorsement from Sen. Lee though. He’s campaigning with both Cruz and Rubio.
Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye