Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will endorse Marco Rubio for president, according to sources.
The Huffington Post reported Romney's endorsement after learning of the development from two sources within the GOP. Romney was prepared to endorse Rubio for several days but delayed an announcement out of respect for Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign after a dismal showing in the South Carolina primary.
Romney marks the highest-profile endorsement of the 2016 presidential race on the Republican side, and could give Rubio a clear shot of beating frontrunner Donald Trump.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty also endorsed Rubio, calling the Florida senator the best candidate for the party.
"I think it comes down to this — he’s strong, he’s also informed, he’s conservative and he’s also electable and he can unite the party," Pawlenty told CNN according to Politico. "And you can’t ask for much more than that. I think he’s got the total package and I think he’s going to bring forward the strongest voice, the strongest image and really the most thoughtful and informed strong view on how to move this country forward from a conservative perspective."
Pawlenty dismissed the notion that Rubio is an establishment candidate, noting his 2010 election.
"He's bold, he's next-generation, he's reform-minded, change-oriented. I think what people want in Donald Trump is strength. In Marco Rubio, you get that same strength, but it's an informed strength."