- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for president Thursday, marking Mr. Cruz’s first endorsement from a sitting U.S. senator and giving him a major boost heading into big Tuesday contests in Ohio and Florida.

“It’s time, my fellow Americans, and in particular today my fellow Republicans, to unite behind one candidate,” Mr. Lee said at an event in Florida ahead of Thursday’s GOP debate. “That candidate is Ted Cruz.

“I’m sending the signal that it’s time to unite,” Mr. Lee said. “The time is finally at hand when we as Republicans need to unite behind one leader.”

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Asked if Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida should drop out of the race, Mr. Lee said, “Everyone will have to make that choice.”

“If Senator Rubio were asking me that, I would encourage him, and I do encourage him, to get behind Ted Cruz,” he said.

Mr. Lee, who was first elected in 2010, is close with both Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio. He said he informed Mr. Rubio of his decision but did not go into details about the conversation.

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In a statement, Mr. Cruz said he is “deeply honored” by Mr. Lee’s support.

“No one has fought harder to restore the rule of law, end cronyism, and level the playing field for millions of Americans,” Mr. Cruz said.

The Texas senator had won the support of former 2016 GOP presidential rival Carly Fiorina on Wednesday — an endorsement also announced on the home turf of Mr. Rubio, who is counting on a win Tuesday in Florida to push his own campaign forward.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who recently won the support of GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has frequently pointed to Mr. Cruz’s lack of endorsements from his Senate colleagues.

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