Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio picked up an endorsement Monday from North Carolina’s junior U.S. senator, Thom Tillis.
Tillis said in a news release that he was backing fellow senator Rubio of Florida because “he represents a bright future for the Republican Party and America. He has the unique capability of drawing new people into the party, which is critically important in a swing state like North Carolina.”
If elected, Rubio would be the nation’s first president of Hispanic ancestry – his parents emigrated from Cuba. And at 44, he’s the youngest presidential candidate this year in either of the two major political parties.
A favorite with GOP leaders, he’s seen by the party’s establishment as the best candidate to try to stop Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz – both outsider candidates this year – from winning the Republican presidential nomination.
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Tillis lauded Rubio’s “unmatched ability to inspire and uplift” and his “vision of optimism,” and said that, “like myself, Marco came from humble beginnings and worked very hard to get to where he is today. Marco lived the American Dream, and he will ensure that each and every one of us can do the same.”
Rubio finished second in last Saturday’s South Carolina primary, 10 points behind Trump and slightly ahead of Cruz.
North Carolina voters will get to vote in their presidential primary on March 15.
North Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Republican Richard Burr, is up for re-election this year and has said he has no plans to endorse a presidential candidate before the GOP national convention meets in July in Cleveland to officially pick a nominee.