South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) will endorse Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential bid on Wednesday, giving the Florida Republican a significant boost just days from the key Palmetto State presidential primary, The State newspaper reported.
Haley could prove a key advantage for Rubio, who has lagged behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and real estate mogul Donald Trump, the current front-runner in the race for the nomination. The governor's endorsement also follows nods from South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and and Rep. Trey Gowdy, all popular representatives among the state's conservatives, in backing Rubio's candidacy.
The Indian-American governor is the first female and minority governor of South Carolina, and was viewed as a natural fit for Rubio's campaign. The senator, who is also the son of immigrants, has framed his candidacy as a generational choice about the future of America - one that can appeal to minority constituencies that largely rejected the Republican Party in the last presidential election.
Haley has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential nominee. She also delivered the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address earlier this year, in which she took aim at Trump. On Tuesday, the governor sharpened that criticism, stating that the businessman represents "everything a governor doesn't want in a president."
Haley endorsed Mitt Romney during the race for the 2012 GOP nomination. The nod did not move the needle for the former Massachusetts governor, however, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went on to win the South Carolina primary.
Asked about a potential Haley nod by NBC News on Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a presidential candidate who had also courted the governor, called it the most powerful, meaningful one in the state."