Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) early Monday announced his endorsement of Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility Bill to protect work licenses of student loan debtors is welcome development Political figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer MORE, backing the Republican presidential candidate on the eve of the Nevada caucuses.

ADVERTISEMENT
“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 CruzThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed MORE (Texas) for second place in South Carolina over the weekend behind Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea 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.