Haley to endorse Rubio

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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is endorsing Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioSenate rivals gear up for debates Rubio: End of Obama's term could be 'most damaging yet' Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance MORE (R-Fla.) in the Republican presidential race. 

The endorsement will be announced at a campaign event Wednesday evening. 
 
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Coming days before the South Carolina primary, the endorsement would be a major blow to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had hoped to secure Haley's backing.
 
The endorsement was first reported by The State newspaper and confirmed to the The Post and Courier.
 
Haley has emerged as a major voice in the state and nationally in the Republican Party, winning bipartisan praise for her handling of the massacre at a historic African-American church in Charleston last summer and subsequent debate over removing a Confederate flag at the statehouse.
 
Republicans leaders in Congress tapped Haley, who is in her second term as governor, to deliver the GOP response to President Obama's final State of the Union address this year, after she pushed back on GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCalif. Dem: Media has overblown Clinton trust questions Bloomberg to fact check debate on-screen MTV to revive 'TRL' — Total Registration Live MORE's rhetoric.
 
Haley had made no secret that she did not plan to endorse Trump, but it was an open question whether she would back Rubio or Bush. 
 
Bush has lagged in recent South Carolina polls, while Rubio has hung around third place in the Palmetto State. Other key figures in the state — including Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottGOP senator: Charlotte video could ease tension House votes to eliminate Olympic medal tax Overnight Defense: White House threatens to veto Gitmo bill MORE and Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyClinton IT aide pleads Fifth, skips hearing House Oversight subpoenas FBI for Clinton investigation documents Clinton emails wiped clean after NYT story MORE — have thrown their support behind Rubio, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamWeek ahead: Funding fight dominates Congress Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senators buck spending bill over Export-Import Bank MORE has supported Bush.
 
"If she is going to give an endorsement it would be the most powerful, meaningful one in the state," Bush told NBC's Peter Alexander during an interview on Tuesday.
 
Bush added if he didn't get the endorsement, "It sends a signal that I got to work harder."
 
Haley endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP presidential race. Romney lost in South Carolina to Newt Gingrich that year, though he ended up winning the Republican nomination.
 
--This report was updated at 2:29 p.m.