February 3, 2016
Rep. Matt Salmon, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Wednesday endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the Republican presidential race.
In a written statement provided to The Arizona Republic by Rubio's campaign, Salmon, R-Ariz., said he "wholeheartedly" believes Rubio is the right person for the Oval Office, based on his national-security credentials, and "has a proven and tested record, and has the ability to unite our party and win in November."
"More than any other candidate, Marco Rubio has the right ideas to take on the threats we face around the world," Salmon said. "As a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, he has seen firsthand the importance of identifying our enemies and standing by our friends, and he knows what it takes to win the war against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)."
With Salmon's endorsement, Rubio edges past former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the race for GOP congressional endorsements. As of late Wednesday, Rubio and Bush each had 31 endorsements, according to Roll Call's tracker. Rubio on Wednesday also picked up endorsements from Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who threw his support to Rubio immediately upon suspending his own poorly performing presidential campaign.
In his statement, Salmon talked up Rubio on immigration. Rubio, a member of the Senate's "Gang of Eight" who crafted a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, has been battered by GOP rivals as pro-"amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.
Rubio "recognizes the significance of protecting the homeland by securing our borders," Salmon said.
"When Marco Rubio is president, he will cancel President (Barack) Obama's unconstitutional executive amnesty, sanctuary cities will lose their federal funding, and criminal aliens will be immediately deported," Salmon said. "As a border-state representative in Congress, I trust him to solve these problems once and for all."
Other high-profile Arizona supporters of Rubio include state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and former Sen. Jon Kyl.