Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party and a favorite among conservatives to round out the party's ticket this fall, endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Wednesday evening.
Rubio's endorsement is a marker of support that many candidates had sought. It comes at a point in the campaign at which Romney has sought to coalesce Republicans behind his candidacy.
"I don't have a problem with primaries, but I think we're at a stage now where at least two of the candidates have admitted that the only way to get the nomination is to have a floor fight at the convention," Rubio said before announcing his support for Romney on Fox News.
"It’s increasingly clear that Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee,” Rubio said, adding: “We’ve got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination and that’s Mitt Romney.”
Romney has spoken highly of Rubio in the past, describing him most recently as an example of "the American Dream" in an appearance Tuesday on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show."
Rubio has been a favorite among conservatives since his Senate bid in 2010, in which he managed to best moderate Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary, and eventually, in the general election (in which Crist ran as an independent).
Since his election, Rubio has been cautious on national issues. He waited months before delivering his maiden speech in the chamber, and had generally demurred on questions of national politics, instead emphasizing his focus on Florida issues.
But there has been undeniable hype surrounding his potential selection as a running mate to the eventual Republican nominee.
"It's not going to happen," the Florida senator said Wednesday on MSNBC. "I'm obviously flattered that people think about me that way. There are some things I'd like to get done here in the United States Senate. I'm enjoying the role that we have here."
Although Pope Benedict has called for more religious freedom, he's chosen to meet with Fidel Castro and not political dissidents during his trip to Cuba. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discusses.
Rubio additionally said on Wednesday evening that while he has spoken with Romney throughout the primary, the topic of the vice presidency never came up as a topic.
To that end, Rubio pushed up the release date of an autobiography to early this summer (a less favorable biography by a reporter is expected later this summer). His campaign finance reports also showed he had hired a firm to conduct opposition research on his past — mirroring the kind of vetting process a potential vice presidential candidate might face.
The potential of having Rubio on the ticket has stoked Republican optimism that the party's nominee might fare better among Latino voters; the GOP has lagged among this key voting bloc in several recent national polls. A Fox News Latino poll released earlier this month found that 24 percent of Latino voters would be more likely to support the Republican ticket if Rubio were the vice presidential nominee; 51 percent said it would make no difference, and 14 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a ticket on which Rubio served as the vice presidential pick.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who endorsed Romney for president, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last week that Romney should pick Rubio as his running mate.
"He is the best orator of American politics today, a good family man. He is not only a consistent conservative, but he has managed to find a way to communicate a conservative message full of hope and optimism," he said.