[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/29/art.cantor0328.gi.jpg caption ="House Minority Whip Eric Cantor will endorse Marco Rubio for Senate in Florida on Tuesday."]Washington (CNN) - House Minority Whip Eric Cantor Tuesday will endorse Marco Rubio for Senate, the latest high profile Republican to do so in recent days, two GOP sources familiar with the announcement confirm to CNN.
The endorsement comes as many national Republicans believe that the one-time front runner for the Republican Senate nomination in Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist, will run an independent bid for the open seat. Recent polling indicates that Rubio, the former Florida House Speaker, leads Crist in the GOP primary by double digits.
"We are a nation at a crossroads, and we need responsible leadership in Washington," Cantor is expected to say in his endorsement. "Marco Rubio is just the type of leader our country needs and will make an excellent Senator for the State of Florida."
On Monday, the chief strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee told GOP allies it is his belief that Crist will leave the GOP primary. The NRSC had endorsed Crist, but was prepared to shift its backing to Rubio.
Cantor, a congressmen from Virginia, is considered to be a rising star in the party. His endorsement is another sign that the Republican establishment is embracing Rubio's candidacy, which has been fueled in the past year by conservative, grass roots activists.