Having a surprisingly strong finish in the Iowa caucus is paying Sen. Marco Rubio dividends, especially by way of endorsements.
Rubio, a Florida Republican, has gotten nearly 10 endorsements from congressional lawmakers since he came in third – just a percentage point behind second-place finisher Donald Trump – on Monday in the nation’s first presidential contest.
Endorsements, particularly from party leaders such as sitting governors and members of Congress, noted the New York Times, have long been seen as a good predictor of a presidential candidate’s odds of winning the nomination.
This week, Rubio picked up endorsements from two sitting senators – Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, also of Pennsylvania, endorsed Rubio shortly after dropping out of the presidential race.
Scott’s backing is seen as a potential boost since South Carolina is an important early primary, which takes place on Feb. 20.
The New York Times’ endorsement tracker, which assigns points to endorsements based on the importance the paper believes they carry, now has Rubio leading the GOP field in total points.
He dethroned former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had topped the list since August. The Times noted that, in contrast to Rubio, Bush has gotten only one endorsement in recent weeks, from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, also of South Carolina.
The Daily Caller said of Tim Scott’s endorsement: “In a sense, Scott checks off several boxes. He is generally considered to be a solid conservative, he obviously hails from an important early state and he embodies the same narrative as Rubio – more evidence that someone born into a humble family can still achieve the American Dream.”
The son of George H.W. Bush and George W., Jeb was seen as the presumptive GOP nominee by many when he launched his presidential campaign, but he finished a dismal sixth in Iowa with just 2.8 percent of the vote.
Rubio surprised many by coming in at a strong third, with 23 percent of the vote, only one percentage point behind Donald Trump.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the winner with 28 percent.
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