TIME Sen. Marco Rubio

South Carolina Governor to Endorse Rubio

Nikki Haley
Sean Rayford—AP Nikki Haley delivers the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse on Jan. 20, 2016.

She's one of the most sought-after endorsements in the state

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will endorse Florida Senator Marco Rubio Wednesday evening, according to a source close to the governor.

The State newspaper first reported that Haley, the most coveted endorser for Republicans in the state, will appear with Rubio at a scheduled rally in Chapin, S.C. Haley had been torn between Rubio, Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — who quit the race last week.

Haley has gained national prominence since her response to the Charleston shooting last year, and she was selected by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to deliver the response to President Obama’s State of the Union in January. Haley used the occasion to counter GOP front runner Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and offer a more optimistic path for the GOP. In recent months, she has appeared on potential short-lists for the GOP vice-presidential nomination.

In recent days, Rubio has lavished praise on Haley are an example of the type of leader the GOP needs to grow the party. The pair, both children of immigrants, share similar backgrounds.

The endorsement comes as Rubio looks to place well above Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich in hopes of establishing himself as the clear alternative to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and real estate mogul Trump.

In an interview with NBC News on Tuesday, Bush said that a Haley endorsement would be “the most powerful, meaningful one in the state.”

Haley endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2011, a year in which she was also sought by candidates for her backing, though former Speaker Newt Gingrich ended up winning the state by 12 points.

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