Rubio earns rare primary endorsement from key Va. newspaper
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade 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 Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE and Mitt Romney in face-offs against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation 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 TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE or Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 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).