Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) early Monday announced his endorsement of Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE, backing the Republican presidential candidate on the eve of the Nevada caucuses.

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“I think it comes down to this: He’s strong, he’s also informed. He’s conservative and he’s electable and he can unite the party. And you can’t ask for much more than that. I think he’s got the total package,” Pawlenty, a former GOP presidential candidate himself, said of the Florida senator on CNN’s “New Day.”

“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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Texas) for second place in South Carolina over the weekend behind Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment 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.