Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is happily standing by her upper chamber colleague Marco Rubio as he makes a run for the GOP presidential nomination, but she won't be endorsing him ahead of the state's key caucuses next week.
"I have said I am not going to endorse in this race, and that is a promise I am going to keep to Iowa," she declared Monday, instead introducing Rubio as a "good friend" who's "very near and dear to my heart," the Des Moines Register
"I know he has the confidence necessary in a leader to contain or destroy ISIS," the National Guard veteran said. "I watched him fight that fight."
The non endorsement was a victory nonetheless, The New York Times
reports, because Rubio is lacking "some of the high-profile conservative support" that has gravitated toward Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the early voting state.
Rubio is running third in a polling average in the Iowa race
, behind both Cruz and leader Donald Trump.
Still, Ernst isn't planning to appear with any of Rubio's competitors in the GOP nomination race, the Times reports, though her spokeswoman said "we're happy to do our best to accommodate any requests that the schedule allows."
Both first-term senators have a history of supporting each other, the Register notes; Rubio endorsed Ernst during the Senate primary in 2014 and stumped for her on the eve of the primary vote.
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