- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, backing a candidate who he said has the best chance to win in the fall and be a great president.

Toomey told reporters on a conference call that his decision revolved around Rubio’s ability to win an election and do well in the Oval Office. Toomey chose Rubio over another colleague in the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas, and two neighboring state governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio.

Toomey stressed Rubio’s service on the Senate committees on Intelligence and Foreign Relations, saying that Rubio has a strong grasp of national security matters.

Rubio should do well in Pennsylvania, Toomey said, because of his compelling life story, fluency in Spanish, upbeat outlook on America’s prospects and his ability to communicate “as well as any Republican I’ve ever met.”

“I think all of those things contribute to Marco’s ability to be a very strong candidate in Pennsylvania,” Toomey said.

Toomey is running for a second six-year term in the November election. At least three Democrats - Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty and John Fetterman - are seeking the party’s nomination to take on Toomey.

Pennsylvania has supported Democrats for president in every general election since 1988, and its late position in the primary lineup - April 26 - has sown doubt over whether the race for the nomination will be settled by then.

Toomey’s move comes amid worries by some top Pennsylvania Republicans that the nomination of Cruz or Donald Trump could sour Pennsylvania’s moderate, swing voters against Toomey, not to mention other Republicans on the ballot next November.

“The reality is, nobody knows how a particular presidential nominee is going to affect down-ballot races,” Toomey said. “It’s very, very hard to know that.”

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