Ever since I reported that South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy was about to endorse Marco Rubio's presidential bid in December, I've heard rumors that Sen. Tim Scott would eventually do the same. As Christine wrote last night, that has now come to fruition. Watch:
As with Gowdy, this is a good get for Team Marco, which is trying to make a play in South Carolina (remember that risky 3-2-1 strategy? It seems like the Rubio campaign is starting to give itself additional 'long game' options). Scott has emerged as an extremely popular politician in the Palmetto State, with approval numbers that placed him among the most popular Senators in America last year. He's a strong conservative and a person of color who boasts an inspiring life story, making him an unsurprising fit for the Rubio campaign. Fun fact: Tim Scott is the first Southern black Senator since reconstruction; there are now more black Southern Republican members of the US Senate (one) than Democrats from the deep South (zero). Donald Trump recently won the backing of the state's Lieutenant Governor, while Ted Cruz has picked up the endorsement of a conservative South Carolina Congressman. The biggest outstanding endorsement in the state is that of wildly popular Governor Nikki Haley. We can guess who she won't be supporting, but it's all speculation from there. Will she do Chris Christie a solid based upon their relationship at the RGA? Some had pegged her as a shoo-in for Rubio, but this doesn't sound like the rhetoric of someone who's about to jump aboard his bandwagon, even if she later walked back her phrasing. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire...
SCOOP: Per sources, SCOTT BROWN to endorse Trump tonight at NH rally https://t.co/tzYdIcCbj4— Robert Costa (@costareports) February 2, 2016
Although Brown was defeated in his senatorial bid here, he has been a popular GOP figure in New England ever since his stunning, come-from-behind victory in Massachusetts’s special election to fill the Senate seat in 2010. Brown is also a favorite of many establishment Republicans because of his centrist positions, including support for abortion rights and for a ban on assault weapons. His profile and personality, however, are blue collar and populist. He drove a pickup truck during his Senate bids and is a habitué of Cheap Trick concerts. On the endorsement front, Brown is the first U.S. senator, current or former, to formally back Trump.
Brown is the second prominent Romneyworld figure to embrace Trump. So far this cycle, we've seen intense battles break out between Trump and Cruz, and Rubio and Cruz. What we haven't seen much of, beyond playground insults and trolling, is brawling between Trump and Rubio. According to New York Magazine's sources, that's about to change:
Having survived his immigration war with Cruz relatively unscathed, Rubio may be emboldened to take on Trump. According to a source close to the campaign, Rubioworld is now arming itself for an assault on Trump. "They’ve done a lot of oppo research. Personal stuff," the source said. "It’s going to be personal to Trump because they know Trump will be personal to Marco.” Over the coming days, there will be a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by Rubio’s camp to convince major donors supporting his rivals — Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush — to rally behind Rubio for the battle against Cruz-Trump. “There is major pressure being brought to bear,” one conservative financier said. Christie and Kasich are both running low on cash, and anything but a top finish in New Hampshire spells doom for their campaigns.
I'll leave you with this. Hmmmm:
Limbaugh sounds like he's trying to slow walk his listeners away from Trump on this show. He now brings up Trump support for ethanol subsidy— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 2, 2016
Rush singing Rubio's praises.— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) February 2, 2016
I've been regretfully critical of Limbaugh's Trump boosterism, but it seems as though he may be turning a corner. Listeners tweeted today that Rush lavishly praised both Cruz and Rubio on the show, defending the latter against accusations that he's an "establishment" figure. I'd imagine the Rubio campaign has those clips in the vault for when Cruz plays that card against his fellow Senate freshman. While we're on the subject of Cruz, before you go, read Andy McCarthy's recap of Cruz's "smashing victory" in Iowa, which was gratifying on a number of fronts:
Gratifying element of Cruz win: He overcame birther nonsense & furious opposition from ethanol boondoggle lobby. #Iowa— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 2, 2016