Sen. Cory Gardner endorses Marco Rubio

Story highlights

  • Marco Rubio got an endorsement from a fellow senator Monday -- this time Colorado's Cory Gardner
  • The Colorado freshman, who was elected last year, cited Rubio as a voice for the future of the party

Washington (CNN)Marco Rubio on Monday picked up the endorsement of a fellow senator, Colorado Republican Cory Gardner.

The 41-year-old freshman senator endorsed Rubio, 44, on Fox News, touting Rubio's youth and debate skills as making him the best possible contender to face the Democratic nominee in 2016.
"Our country needs a new generation of leadership and I believe that Marco Rubio presents this nation with the greatest possibilities and opportunities to meet the challenges of the next generation," Gardner said. "After the debate in Colorado I thought Marco did an excellent job framing what I believe to be what Colorado and this country want: somebody they can be excited about, somebody who is looking forward to the future, not looking back at the past."
    Gardner won a tough election battle last November in the battleground state of Colorado.
    Rubio delivered his strongest performance yet in the last Republican debate and capitalized on an attack from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of his chief rivals for the nomination, to gain one of his best moments of the night.
    Gardner repeatedly stressed in the interview that Rubio would be the "best opportunity to beat Hillary Clinton," the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and said he offers a "generational choice."
    Gardner, who serves on the foreign relations committee with Rubio, also highlighted Rubio's work on that committee and his experience as Florida's House speaker.
    Gardner also deflected questions about Rubio's poor voting attendance record, citing a "double standard" between Rubio and past presidential contenders running from the Senate.
    But Gardner took a very different stance toward voting absences last year in his election fight against Sen. Mark Udall, the Democrat Gardner unseated last November.
    "What was Senator Udall's record? Absent for over half the public hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Absent for all public hearings on emerging threats," said a narrator in a Gardner campaign ad slamming Udall for missing national security hearings.
    "Mark Udall's wrong and absent when it counts," said the ad, which Gardner posted on his Facebook page.