Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) early Monday announced his endorsement of Marco RubioMarco RubioTHE MEMO: Trump takes the fight to Congress Rubio says town halls designed for people to 'heckle and scream' At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media MORE, backing the Republican presidential candidate on the eve of the Nevada caucuses.
“I think he’s going bring forward the strongest voice, the strongest image and really the most thoughtful and informed strong view about how to move this country forward from a conservative perspective,” Pawlenty added.
Pawlenty pushed back on the characterization of Rubio as the "establishment" candidate in the GOP race, instead describing the senator elected in a tea party wave as a "bona fide movement conservative."
The former governor is the latest politician to endorse Rubio after he edged out Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzDem senator: Confirm Gorsuch, Garland simultaneously THE MEMO: Trump takes the fight to Congress Brietbart CEO reveals that Trump donors are part owners MORE (Texas) for second place in South Carolina over the weekend behind Donald TrumpDonald TrumpArmstrong Williams: Trump is not wrong about trouble in Sweden ACLU clients hit by travel ban to attend Trump address Dem super PAC ads pressure GOP senators to back independent Russia probe MORE.
Rubio picked up the backing of a pair of Nevada lawmakers on Sunday in a race that has winnowed following former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush departure after the South Carolina primary on Saturday.
Pawlenty's endorsement also comes ahead of the Minnesota caucuses on March 1.
--This report was updated at 7:34 a.m.