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VOL. 131 | NO. 40 | Thursday, February 25, 2016

Haslam Endorses Rubio

By Bill Dries

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has endorsed Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio in advance of the Tuesday, March 1, Tennessee primaries -- Republican and Democratic.


In a statement released Thursday morning by the Rubio campaign, Haslam talked about the need for a Republican presidential nominee who can win in the November general election.

“To win in November, conservatives need a candidate who inspires Americans from all backgrounds,” Haslam said. “With Marco standing next to Hillary Clinton on a debate stage, the choice between the future and the past will be clear to every American.”

Haslam’s endorsement comes at the start of a crucial week for such endorsements.

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said last week that they anticipated appeals by several of the Republican contenders this week seeking their endorsements.

Neither had made an endorsement in the primary race at press time.

Rubio is trying to position himself as the consensus party establishment candidate.

The recent history of the Tennessee presidential primary shows a gap between who Republicans select and who is backed by the party establishment.

Mitt Romney was the state party establishment’s candidate in the 2012 primary and the eventual presidential nominee. But rival Rick Santorum carried Shelby County and the state in that year’s Republican presidential primary.

In 2008, John McCain was the nominee and the choice of the state party’s establishment. But Mike Huckabee carried Shelby County and the state in the primary.

Meanwhile, other presidential contenders continue to add Tennessee dates to their campaign calendars.

Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson has added a Sunday visit to Alpha Omega Veterans Services Inc. in Memphis afterhis plan to attend services at Highpoint Church in East Memphis that same day was cancelled.

Highpoint's Andy Savage announced the cancellation Thursday afternoon citing the security requirements for Carson who is among the presidential candidates being provided protection by the U.S. Secret Service.

"Unfortunately the security requirements would not allow to provide an excellent Sunday experience for our partners and our guests," Savage said in a video on the church's Facebook page. "Therefore, we must regretably decline the opportunity to hear Dr. Carson's story. I assure you, we looked at a variety of options to make this work. However there was no option that allowed us to have the excellent Sunday experience we all expect every Sunday at Highpoint Church."

GOP rivals John Kasich and Donald Trump have already scheduled campaign stops. Trump holds a rally Saturday at the Millington Jetport and Kasich holds a town hall meeting Friday evening at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scheduled a Sunday event in Nashville with further details to come by the end of the work week.

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