Miami Herald, GOP governor back Rubio

Story highlights

  • GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio scored two big endorsements Thursday ahead of Florida primary
  • New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and the Miami Herald both picked him as their preferred candidate

(CNN)GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio scored two endorsements Thursday ahead of the Florida primary, and at a critical juncture for his campaign.

The Florida senator earned the endorsement from his hometown paper, the Miami Herald, which called Rubio a "consistent favorite among traditional conservative organizations."
    The paper's editorial board also highlighted the need for the GOP to elect a unifying candidate in the wake of front-runner Donald Trump's rise.
    "The nominee should be the candidate who wins the hearts and votes of Republican rank-and-file members, not someone the 'establishment' anoints. The only way the nominee can win in November is by unifying the GOP and appealing to Democrats and independents," the Herald editors wrote.
    Rubio also gained the endorsement of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. The Latina governor, considered by pundits as a potential vice presidential nominee regardless of who wins the GOP nomination, plans to join Rubio on the campaign trail in Kansas on Friday.
    "The stakes for our great country are too high -- and the differences between the candidates too great -- for me to remain neutral in this race. I wholeheartedly trust Marco to keep us safe and ensure a better tomorrow," Martinez said in a statement to Politico, which first reported the endorsement.
    The two endorsements come during a rough patch for the Rubio campaign. The senator has only been able to win one state in the primary battle, and recent polling shows him trailing Trump by 16 points in his home state of Florida.