Rubio earns rare primary endorsement from key Va. newspaper
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Sen. 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 (R-Fla.) on Sunday earned the coveted endorsement of a Virginia newspaper that usually refrains from backing candidates in competitive primaries.

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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 Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE and Mitt Romney in face-offs against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal 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 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 or 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 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).