By Jesse Byrnes
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday picked up the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in Florida.
The newspaper called the former Florida governor "the most thoughtful, principled and energetic candidate in the Republican field" and one of the state's "most effective governors" ever.
While the newspaper said it had "serious policy disagreements" with Bush on several issues, such as tuition vouchers, it praised his "intellectual rigor, leadership skills and genuine commitment to helping those less fortunate."
The newspaper also blasted his home-state rival, Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Rubio holds massive lead in primary Rubio: Turkey attack 'directed' by ISIS Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (R-Fla.), who has battled Bush for support and money in the state, calling the first-term senator "a likable opportunist with a persuasive sales pitch but a thin record of accomplishment."
While the newspaper said Rubio is the best speaker in the GOP field, it added that "there is nothing in his record to indicate he is prepared to be president."
It also called Ted Cruz a "dangerous alternative" to Bush citing his idea to "carpet bomb" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The editorial board also panned Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.).
Bush is in the middle of the pack in Iowa, which holds its caucuses Monday. But he's recently benefited from a surge in support in New Hampshire, with one poll this week finding him in second. Florida hosts its primary March 15.