S.C. governor Haley backs Rubio for president; senator says endorsement making 'big waves'

"Haley has been a solid voice in favor of lower taxes, fewer job-killing regulations, and protecting the sanctity of life," Rubio's campaign responded Wednesday.
By Ann Marie Awad and Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Feb. 17, 2016 at 7:33 PM
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COLUMBIA, S.C., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley plans to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio for the 2016 Republican nomination -- just days ahead of the party's key primary in her state, media reports said Wednesday.

CNN cited an earlier report by The State that said Haley planned to formally announce the endorsement Wednesday evening.

Haley would join two other major elected officials in the Palmetto State to rally behind the Florida senator, following South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy's hitting the campaign trail for Rubio this week and an endorsement from Sen. Tim Scott.

"Honored to have the support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley! Welcome to the team!" Rubio tweeted Wednesday afternoon, along with a link to the news on his campaign's website.

Haley, who delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last month, has one of the highest approval ratings of any U.S. governor.

Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was expected to announce her endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination Wednesday evening, ahead of the party's primary in the state on Saturday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch

"Needless to say, her decision is making big waves," Rubio's campaign added. "Haley has been a solid voice in favor of lower taxes, fewer job-killing regulations, and protecting the sanctity of life.

"Governor Haley, welcome to Team Marco!"

Haley is viewed by many in the party as a rising star in the GOP ranks. In September, she indicated that she would be interested in filling out the Republican ticket as the 2016 vice presidential candidate -- a prospect that now carries a distinct possibility if Rubio secures his party's nomination.

The governor's endorsement comes in the home stretch before the key Republican primary in South Carolina on Saturday. Polling data in the state has shown that Rubio is running neck-and-neck with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for second place, behind GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

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