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Former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez endorses Marco Rubio


Marco Rubio keeps rolling out mainstream Republican Party endorsements -- including on Monday the one from former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez.

Martinez was the first Cuban American elected to the U.S. Senate, in 2004. He held his seat until 2009; Rubio was elected the following year to fill the post. Like many other recent Rubio Florida backers, Martinez had initially supported former Gov. Jeb Bush for president. He'd hinted that Rubio would be his likely backup.

"Just like Marco's family, this country changed my life and my family's history forever, and the best way to repay the debt I owe America in this election is to help Marco Rubio become our next president," Martinez said in a statement provided by Rubio's campaign. "Our country deserves to have Marco Rubio as our next president, because he will unite us and move us toward the common purpose of making the American Dream a reality for more Americans than ever before."

More from Martinez:

"Marco understands better than anyone in this race what a special place America is and why, and he has all the right ideas and leadership abilities to make sure it remains that way. The stakes have never been higher in a Republican primary, and we need to stand with Marco as the only leader capable of uniting our party and our country. 

"Marco is ready to lead this country as our president, and I will do everything I can to make that happen."