[caption id="attachment_271834" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)[/caption]
Utah Sen. Mike Lee endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday, becoming the first U.S. Senator to back Cruz in his presidential campaign. Lee also "encouraged" Sen Marco Rubio to back Cruz:
If Sen. Rubio were asking me that, I would encourage him, and I do encourage him to get behind Ted Cruz.
I’m sending the signal that it’s time to unite. We as Republicans need to unite behind one leader
The overwhelming majority of Republican senators have not endorsed anyone, I expect that will change. I expect I’ll be the first of many Republican senators who will endorse Ted Cruz. I'm confident more are on the way, and I welcome others to join.
He is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton.
In a written statement from the Cruz campaign Lee said that Cruz is a tireless defender of the Constitution and a leader with a proven record of fighting for our conservative value who has stood up to Washington again and again.
“Ted Cruz has been a tireless defender of the Constitution and the founding principles that have made this the greatest country the world has ever known,” said Lee, who, like Cruz, is a former Supreme Court clerk. “Ted is a leader with a proven record of fighting for our conservative values and for the issues that matter most to Americans. He has shown time and again that he is willing to stand up to Washington. Ted is an authentic fighter who will ensure that poverty is temporary instead of tolerable, that hardworking families will have real opportunities to rise and he will put an end to the special perks and privileges for the wealthy and well-connected. America deserves a president who is principled, positive and proven - I believe that describes Ted Cruz and why I am proud to endorse him for President of the United States.”
Cruz thanked Senator Lee for his endorsement:
I couldn’t be more humbled by Mike’s endorsement. He has been a tremendous friend and I am deeply honored by his support. No one has fought harder to restore the rule of law, end cronyism, and level the playing field for millions of Americans. Mike is a brilliant policy entrepreneur who has been a driving force in promoting conservative reforms to lift people out of poverty, make education more affordable, and fix our tax system. I am privileged to have his support and look forward to having his help coalescing conservatives around our campaign.
So Cruz finally has his first endorsement from a U.S. Senator booked. It's about time. Some of us have been saying this is a two-man race between Sen. Ted Cruz and billionaire Donald Trump since January. Let the coalescing continue.