Rep. Matt Salmon, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Wednesday endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the Republican presidential race.
In a written statement provided to The Arizona Republic by Rubio’s campaign, Salmon, R-Ariz., said he “wholeheartedly” believes Rubio is the right person for the Oval Office, based on his national-security credentials, and “has a proven and tested record, and has the ability to unite our party and win in November.”
“More than any other candidate, Marco Rubio has the right ideas to take on the threats we face around the world,” Salmon said. “As a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, he has seen firsthand the importance of identifying our enemies and standing by our friends, and he knows what it takes to win the war against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”
With Salmon’s endorsement, Rubio edges past former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the race for GOP congressional endorsements. As of late Wednesday, Rubio and Bush each had 31 endorsements, according to Roll Call’s tracker.
This will give people all over the Rubio spectrum ammo for their various pro or con arguments.
As he now has the most congressional endorsements, it’s easy to make the case that he is, in fact, an establishment favorite. That’s a double-edged sword in this election. It brings some financial help with it (more so once Jeb gets out) but it doesn’t win converts from the people who are just plain fed up with Washington.
Salmon, however, is very, very conservative, and this will help Rubio make the case that he too has solid conservative credentials, which absent the Gang of Eight fiasco, he does. As the Freedom Caucus was integral in speeding up John Boehner’s retirement plans and getting in the way of Boehner fave Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, it is difficult to portray any of its members as overly sympathetic to the GOP establishment.
Salmon may not be the biggest name for a Rubio endorsement thus far, but it is definitely one of the most important.