Haley to endorse Rubio
© Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyCoronavirus sets off industry scramble for aid from Washington Why Klobuchar should be Biden's vice presidential pick Overnight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru MORE is endorsing Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise SNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal Senior State Department official headed to Peru to bring home stranded Americans, Rubio says MORE (R-Fla.) in the Republican presidential race. 

The endorsement will be announced at a campaign event Wednesday evening. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Coming days before the South Carolina primary, the endorsement would be a major blow to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had hoped to secure Haley's backing.
 
The endorsement was first reported by The State newspaper and confirmed to the The Post and Courier.
 
Haley has emerged as a major voice in the state and nationally in the Republican Party, winning bipartisan praise for her handling of the massacre at a historic African-American church in Charleston last summer and subsequent debate over removing a Confederate flag at the statehouse.
 
Republicans leaders in Congress tapped Haley, who is in her second term as governor, to deliver the GOP response to President Obama's final State of the Union address this year, after she pushed back on GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE's rhetoric.
 
Haley had made no secret that she did not plan to endorse Trump, but it was an open question whether she would back Rubio or Bush. 
 
Bush has lagged in recent South Carolina polls, while Rubio has hung around third place in the Palmetto State. Other key figures in the state — including Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHow much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate unanimously passes T coronavirus stimulus package Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE and Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for another week fighting the coronavirus, seek to curb fallout GOP lawmaker shows off AR-15 in office, challenges Biden to 'come and take it' Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses MORE — have thrown their support behind Rubio, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus Schumer: Senate should 'explore' remote voting if coronavirus sparks lengthy break MORE has supported Bush.
 
"If she is going to give an endorsement it would be the most powerful, meaningful one in the state," Bush told NBC's Peter Alexander during an interview on Tuesday.
 
Bush added if he didn't get the endorsement, "It sends a signal that I got to work harder."
 
Haley endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP presidential race. Romney lost in South Carolina to Newt Gingrich that year, though he ended up winning the Republican nomination.
 
--This report was updated at 2:29 p.m.