Rubio earns rare primary endorsement from key Va. newspaper
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioOvernight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts What’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran MORE (R-Fla.) on Sunday earned the coveted endorsement of a Virginia newspaper that usually refrains from backing candidates in competitive primaries.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the leading daily newspaper in the state’s capital, delivered its endorsement just two days before the Virginia primary on Tuesday — months before it typically weighs in on the race.

“After considerable reflection, we have decided that standing on the sidelines as Virginians go to the polls Tuesday would be a dereliction of our duty,” the Times-Dispatch editorial board wrote.

While the Times-Dispatch endorsed former GOP nominees John McCainJohn McCainEx-Bush aide Nicolle Wallace to host MSNBC show Meghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' Top commander: Don't bet on China reining in North Korea MORE and Mitt Romney in face-offs against Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump blames Obama for vetting of Flynn Microsoft hires former FTC commissioner Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE, the paper rarely supports a candidate during a primary.

“It is the flaws of two men seeking the Republican nomination that pushed us into abandoning our usual practice of making a presidential endorsement in the waning weeks of October,” the editorial board wrote, arguing that the “election of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWHCA dinner could be Trump's chance to one-up the media. He should take it. Trump promises border wall still coming at NRA summit Perez: Trump and Republican in Georgia runoff are '2 peas in a pod' MORE or Ted CruzTed CruzTrump: NRA has 'a true friend and champion in the White House' Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit Schumer: Trump's handling of North Korea 'all wrong' MORE would not serve the best interests of the nation or the Republican Party.”

A poll released Sunday morning showed that GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has a large lead in Virginia, while Rubio is battling for second place with Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).