Marco Rubio Picks Up Key Republican Endorsement, Can He Gain On Trump & Cruz Before Iowa?

Now established as a top-tier candidate in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Marco Rubio garnered critical support today from a key Republican legislator. CNN notes that South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy has thrown his support behind Rubio as the race heats up heading into the final weeks before the first primary elections of 2016.

Trey Gowdy, arguably best known as the man behind the most recent congressional inquiry into the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks, offered high praise for the GOP contender in comments included in a Rubio campaign press release.

“Marco is a rock solid conservative and a strong leader we can trust. I look forward to campaigning in Iowa with him, and introducing my good friend to voters across the state.”

Discussing Gowdy’s endorsement of Marco Rubio, conservative outlet Breitbart described the South Carolina congressman as “a celebrity among many conservatives” for his grilling of Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings. After the hearings, Trey Gowdy publicly accused the former Secretary of State Clinton of lying under oath to his committee. Now engaged in her own effort to secure a nomination for the presidential race, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party’s frontrunner in that race.

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) questions witnesses about lapses in TSA screening. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Breitbart noted that Gowdy will appear with Rubio at seven campaign stops in Iowa over the course of coming weeks.

Trey Gowdy could conceivably yield more support for voters on the Republican Party’s far right, including those affiliated with the Tea Party movement. But Gowdy is not the only influential Republican to signal support for Rubio as of late. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is also popular with Tea Party voters, has appeared with the presidential hopeful in Iowa, describing his colleague as “inspiring” and “hopeful” according to political commentary site Hot Air.

Earlier this month, Senator Scott stressed that he considers his endorsement on who he should support as an important component of his political work.

“Someone once said that voters will vote for candidates they don’t like; voters will not vote for candidates who don’t like them,” Tim Scott said in comments published by NPR. “So we have to make sure we’re not sending signals that we don’t like the voters in a certain demographic category or for any other reasons.”

Scott has hosted town hall forums in South Carolina featuring Republican candidates including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

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Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a pancake breakfast at the Franklin VFW December 23, 2015 in Franklin, New Hampshire. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Despite the much-needed endorsements of some high-profile fellow travelers, Marco Rubio still needs to garner a veritable groundswell of support to stay relevant following the earliest Republican primary contests. A compilation of national polls by Real Clear Politics show that Rubio enjoys a significant lead over many of his rivals but still lags far behind the frontrunner Donald Trump and the second place contender, Ted Cruz.

Polls of likely Iowa voters differ somewhat from national results, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in front of Donald Trump. Marco Rubio stands at around 12 percent, compared to Cruz’s 30 percent and Donald Trump’s 27 percent. The Iowa caucuses, which will be held on February 1, will be followed by the New Hampshire primaries just over one week later. In that contest, Rubio holds the second place spot behind Donald Trump, trailing the real estate mogul by around 14 points. Marco Rubio is polling at a distant third in South Carolina which, as noted above, is the home state for his new campaign allies Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott.

[Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images]