- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2016

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for president Monday, as Mr. Rubio looks to shore up establishment support ahead of Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses and Super Tuesday on March 1.

In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Mr. Pawlenty called Mr. Rubio “strong,” “informed,” “conservative” and “electable.”

“And he can unite the party, and you can’t ask for much more than that,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “I think he’s got the total package, and I think he’s going to bring forward the strongest voice, the strongest image, and really the most thoughtful and informed, strong view about how to move this country forward from a conservative perspective.”

Mr. Pawlenty had sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, but he dropped out of the race in August 2011 after a disappointing third-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll.

In a statement, Mr. Tillis, first elected in 2014, said Mr. Rubio has “an unmatched ability to inspire and uplift the American people.”

The Rubio campaign on Monday also touted the endorsement of GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy of Nevada.

On Sunday, the Rubio campaign had announced the endorsements of GOP Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who had been supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, GOP Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada and actor Donnie Wahlberg.

The GOP caucuses in Nevada are on Tuesday, and Minnesota is one of about a dozen states to hold its nominating contest on March 1.

Mr. Bush, who finished in fourth place in South Carolina on Saturday, announced he is suspending his campaign. Mr. Rubio edged out Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for second place in South Carolina, finishing behind businessman Donald Trump.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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