Gowdy endorses Rubio for president

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South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy on Tuesday endorsed fellow Republican and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president.

“I found hope in the son of a barkeep and housekeeper,” Gowdy said at a town hall meeting in Clinton, Iowa. “I found my candidate. It’s Marco Rubio.”

Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said he’s backing Rubio largely on his strength and knowledge on national security and public safety issues.

“What good is freedom of speech if you’re dead or living in fear?” Gowdy asked.

Rubio has steadily climbed in the GOP primary polls, reaching second place in early December behind frontrunner Donald Trump.

However, his numbers have since dropped slightly, and he is now in third place with 11.6 percent of the vote, behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 18.6 percent and Trump at 35.6 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics averaging of polls.

Rubio already has endorsements from fellow Republican Sens. Cory Gardner, Colorado; James Risch, Idaho, and Steve Daines, Montana.

“I can’t tell you who to vote for,” Gowdy told audience members Tuesday. “But I’m going to vote for Marco Rubio. National security and public safety are the most important issues. And Marco Rubio is the best for them.”