Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is hitting the trail in South Carolina with the governor as a new tracking poll shows he may have gotten a boost from Nikki Haley’s endorsement.
After throwing her pre-primary backing behind the senator at a Wednesday evening rally, Haley rallied in Greenville with Rubio, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “Take a picture of this, because this new group of conservatives taking over America looks like a Benetton commercial,” Haley said of the diverse group.
On Friday, the quartet will make stops in Columbia, Pawleys Island, Hilton Head, Charleston, and Clemson.
A new ARG tracking poll with two nights of interviews — the second evening’s survey conducted after the Haley endorsement — and released this afternoon shows Donald Trump still in the lead with 33 percent followed by Rubio at 20 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 15 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 8 percent, Ben Carson at 3 percent, and 7 percent undecided.
Among self-described Republicans, Trump leads Rubio 33 percent to 21 percent. Among independents who can vote in the GOP primary, Kasich is second to Trump’s 33 percent with 24 percent.
In a joint appearance with Haley on Fox last night, Rubio said they’d spoken about an endorsement over the past few days.
“I know she took the situation very seriously. It’s an important decision. You know, she has built up an incredible reputation here in South Carolina and across the country. And it’s one of the things I said as we would love her help beyond South Carolina,” Rubio said.
“I think people all over the country admire her very much. And so we were excited when we got the word that this is a real possibility. And for us and for me, and I have said this before, even — and I would say despite the endorsement, I would say this, she represents everything I want the Republican Party to be about — fiscal responsibility, a limited federal government. All the things that our government should be about and all the things our party should be about, she embodies.”
Haley said national security and healthcare policy figured into her decision to back Rubio. “But, more than anything, I want a president that’s going to fight back on the last eight years that we have had to deal with and also going to make sure they hold a conscience to every Republican to make sure they are doing what Republicans were meant to do, which was balance our budgets, reduce our debt and grow our reserves,” she said. “And I think Marco Rubio is the man to do that.”
The governor said she called Jeb Bush first to let him know her decision “out of the fact that he is a dear friend” and also called Cruz, “and let them know that I appreciate their willingness to serve.”
“And that I appreciate their sacrifice. And that our country was blessed that they took the time to run for president,” Haley said. “But I did tell them that I was going to endorse Marco and that I had thought very hard about it and appreciated their time and their conversations and they were very grateful.”