Republican presidential candidate Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio defends Trump: 'This whole flip-flop thing is a political thing' Rubio: Shutdown would have 'catastrophic impact' on global affairs Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE has overtaken his former mentor Jeb Bush in congressional endorsements, building his momentum as the establishment's first choice in the GOP race.
After finishing a strong third in Monday's Iowa caucuses, Sen. Rubio (R-Fla.) bagged six endorsements in quick succession, including the coveted support of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, which will help him in the Palmetto State primary Feb. 20.
Rubio now has 32 endorsements to Bush's 31 — a blow to the former Florida governor and yet another sign that the GOP establishment is consolidating around Rubio before next week’s New Hampshire primary as its best hope to defeat outsiders Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Rubio's Wednesday endorsement from Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson tipped the junior senator over Bush, and more endorsements are expected to come tomorrow, including that of Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
The swing behind Rubio hurts Bush, who had been selling establishment support as one of his key advantages. Endorsements have historically been a strong predictor of the nominee, and Bush was trying to position himself as the serious - even inevitable - alternative to Trump and Cruz.
In a slide presentation to donors late last year, Bush's campaign boasted that "Marco hasn't received a single endorsement from a fellow U.S. Senator."
Another slide declared, "Jeb Bush has more Congressional public support than any other candidate."
Asked about Rubio overtaking Bush in congressional endorsements, Bush's spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said: "Jeb has the largest national organization in the entire Republican field and has earned support from diverse stakeholders, including 12 Medal of Honor award winners, more than 40 flag officers, several former governors and hundreds of leaders in the early states and beyond.
"Jeb is the candidate most prepared and qualified to lead our nation on Day 1."
- Updated at 10:39 p.m.