George Pataki Endorses Marco Rubio With A Clear-Headed Jab At Donald Trump

Former New York governor and Republican presidential candidate George Pataki gave his official endorsement to Marco Rubio for president Tuesday morning. In an interview with Fox News, Pataki stated that he thinks Rubio will unite the Republican party, saying, "Donald Trump is dividing us. Marco Rubio is going to bring us together." And Pataki doesn't intend to just talk the talk, he's planning to walk the walk too: "I'm going to do everything I can to help Senator Rubio win this election."

Pataki's endorsement comes at a critical time for Rubio, who is heading into the primary season polling third nationally and in Iowa, and fourth in New Hampshire. Although Trump is leading, there's still a consensus among pundits that he won't win the nomination, and Rubio is seen as a strong alternative to Trump's bombastic idealism. Rubio's campaign finances are strong, meaning he still has the resources to potentially pull off a second-place finish in Iowa, where The Des Moines Register also endorsed him on Monday. The latest high-profile endorsement and stumping help from Pataki could be a game-changer going into the Iowa caucus.

Yet, Rubio as Pataki's pick is an interesting endorsement. Known for his moderate reputation, Pataki is a fairly liberal Republican, while Rubio swings further right. Rubio has been especially intense with his abortion rhetoric during the campaign, calling abortion advocates "barbarians" during the first GOP debate back in August. Rubio's firm anti-abortion stance is a staunch contrast to Pataki, who self-identifies as pro-choice. In an election cycle that has unexpectedly seen abortion become a huge campaign issue, Pataki's endorsement of Rubio is a bit perplexing.

But Pataki cited Rubio's Senate leadership and legislative record as his primary reasoning behind the endorsement. "He's provided great leadership. He did it in the state legislature in Florida," Pataki said. "He's done it in the U.S. Senate, particularly when it comes to rebuilding our military, standing up to radical Islam."

Even if their politics are often at odds, Rubio warmly welcomed the endorsement shortly after Pataki announced it. Endorsements are coming in quickly for the Republican candidates, and Rubio needs the help where he can get it. Donald Trump touted Sarah Palin as an endorser during a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa, last Tuesday, and Ted Cruz earned the support of Glenn Beck, the popular conservative radio host, at a rally on Saturday. Although Pataki never gained much traction in the race, his endorsement could be critical if he attracts moderate Republicans to Rubio's cause.

With just six days to go before the Iowa caucus officially kicks off primary season, Pataki's endorsement proves that there's still hope for Rubio's campaign — the leaderboard hasn't been set in stone and there can still be shakeups in this election season. The question now is whether any voters will be swayed when Iowans finally gather to caucus next Monday.