Rubio endorsed by Iowa's largest newspaper
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The Des Moines Register on Saturday selected Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade MORE as its Republican presidential endorsement, a potentially big bump just days before Iowa’s caucuses.
 
"Sen. Marco Rubio has the potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream," the paper wrote in its endorsement. 
 
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"We endorse him because he represents his party’s best hope."
 
 
He’s currently in third place in Iowa with 11 percent support, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.
 
The Register framed the nomination season as a definitional choice for the GOP. 
 
"They could choose anger, pessimism and fear. Or they could take a different path," it wrote.
 
"The party could channel that frustration and pursue true reform. It could renounce its fealty to the economic elite and its fixation with tax cuts for the wealthy."
 
The endorsement specifically cites Rubio's strong favorability among independents and Latinos as essential tools towards winning back the White House. But it also notes that the "whip-smart" senator has the appeal to the Republican base.
 
While the Register noted trepidations with Rubio — his spotty Senate attendance record, his relative inexperience compared to other candidates, and how he recently "pandered to a rising pessimism in his party” — it hopes he'll take the path towards the "opportunity and optimism he so eloquently articulates."
 
The endorsement may help Rubio's stock in the polls, where Trump and Cruz both are polling way ahead of the rest of the field. Trump leads the RCP average with 29 percent, and Cruz has 26 percent. Nobody else garners more than Rubio's 11 percent.
 
Neither Trump nor Cruz met with the paper to seek its endorsement, a fact that the paper said did not disqualify them from being endorsed.
 
Trump has for months bashed the Register, after the newspaper published an editorial calling on him to drop out of the race in July.
 
The business mogul barred Register reporters from events, and criticized the paper repeatedly during Iowa campaign events.
 
Cruz hasn’t mixed it up with the paper like Trump has, but he’s drawn significant criticism from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who said that “it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” according to the Register.
 
Despite the polls, caucuses are a more difficult type of contest to predict because the process is more involved than general primaries. 
 
Instead of being able to cast a vote at a convenient time at polling places throughout the day, caucus-goers must show up to precincts at a specific time in the evening to publicly support their chosen candidate.
 
The Register has endorsed candidates since 1988. It got the last two GOP Iowa caucuses wrong — backing Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee were the respective winners.
 
Prior to that, the newspaper’s endorsement eventually won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2000, 1996 and 1988.
 
Rubio's campaign also touted the endorsement of the Sioux City Journal late Saturday.
 
The newspaper's editorial board described the Florida senator as "articulate, informed and personable."
 
 
- Updated on Jan. 24 at 7:46 p.m.