Citing his inspirational message and his foreign policy strengths, Utah Rep. Mia Love is endorsing Marco Rubio for president.
“When he came to Utah, I saw him inspire people,” said Love, who said she appreciated Rubio didn’t treat Utah as a “flyover state.”
“He has a positive agenda moving forward,” she added. And on the heels of the Paris attacks, she also cited Rubio’s national security record: “We have to do everything we can to make sure that we strengthen our national defense, and do everything we can to make sure that this country and the people that are living in this country are safe - and Marco is the right person to do that.”
“We’re thrilled to have Mia join our fast-growing team,” said Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Conant. “Mia is a next generation conservative like Marco who will help make this century a new American Century.”
Love, who’s 39, represents yet another pickup for Rubio from a younger member of Congress, and may help bolster his argument that he can bring “generational change” to the Republican party.
On the campaign trail, many of Rubio’s supporters talk up his ability to bring a more diverse group of people into the GOP tent, and Love’s support could help in that regard. She became the first African-American Republican woman in Congress when she was elected by Utah voters in 2014.
Conant continued: “Mia and Marco have known each for years, and we really appreciate her eagerness to help our campaign.”
The two have known each other at least since the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, when Love delivered a speech that, at the time, solidified her status as a rising star within the GOP.
Like Rubio, Love gained early support from the Tea Party movement. But she got some backlash from that group after her vote in support of then-House Speaker John Boehner earlier this year.
Still, her connections could help as Rubio looks to shore up support in the Tea Party lane and beat back attacks from rivals that he’s become too “establishment,” particularly in a campaign season where it’s politically advantageous to be perceived as an outsider.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com