[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/23/art.rubio1.gi.jpg caption="Marco Rubio picked up a new high profile endorsement Friday."]Washington (CNN) – Marco Rubio picked up another high profile endorsement Friday as the frontrunner for the Florida Republican Senate nomination shrugged off speculation that Charlie Crist would abandon the GOP primary to run as an independent.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who hosts the Friday edition of Bill Bennett's "Morning in America," announced his support for Rubio on the nationally broadcast radio program in which Rubio appeared as a guest.
"Well Marco, you have my very strong support," Santorum told the former Florida House speaker. "I am excited to be on your team because, again, I think you are very much the future of the Republican Party and you are setting the standard that hopefully other candidate across the country will step up to the plate and do."
Crist, the governor of Florida, was once considered unbeatable in the GOP primary and the general election. But Rubio has taken what was once a long shot candidacy to displace Crist as the frontrunner for the Republican nod and he has become a darling of conservative Republicans. Now, Crist is considering leaving the GOP primary to pursue an independent Senate bid, a decision the governor must make by the end of April.
"It doesn't change the race for me as I've told everybody I got into this race because I believe that I was the only candidate running who would stand up to the Obama agenda and offer a clear alternative and I still believe that," Rubio told Santorum during his appearance on the radio program. "And that's not going to change whether it is a three- way race or two-way race. The way I view it is my two opponents, Congressman Kendrick Meek … and Governor Charlie Crist are both folks that have supported and will support important, if not all the elements, of the Obama agenda if they get elected to the U.S. Senate. So the race in that regard hasn't changed at all."
Meek is expected to win the Democratic Senate nomination.