U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson votes for Rubio in GOP primary

Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio spent his lunch hour on Wednesday November 25, 2015 talking with Lowcountry residents along the bank of Shem Creek held at Waters Edge Restaurant. Grace Beahm/Staff

WASHINGTON -- Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has picked up more support from inside the South Carolina Congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of Aiken told The Post and Courier Saturday afternoon he had cast a vote for the Florida Senator in the GOP primary.

“I believe (Rubio) is somebody who can bring a positive change, which is needed, to Washington,” Wilson, a Republican, explained. “I also appreciate his stand for strong national defense, and he’s very consistent we’ve got to have a strong national defense.”

He also said Rubio performed well at the most recent Republican presidential debate in Greenville.

“He said something from the heart,” Wilson said. “He said how grateful he is that, on 9/11, how fortunate we are that it was President George W. Bush, not President Al Gore.”

Wilson joins a handful of other prominent South Carolina elected officials to endorse Rubio -- fellow U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Nikki Haley. Any establishment support for Rubio is significant at this point, when his ability to continue his campaign beyond South Carolina depends on how he fares Saturday night.

But Wlison suggested he wasn’t going to be a footsoldier for Rubio as Gowdy, Scott and Haley have been. He won’t be at Rubio headquarters to watch returns on Saturday night, saying he had a family birthday celebration to attend instead.

“I’m not against anyone,” Wilson added. “There are so many credible candidates.”

Wilson said he had been impressed with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker before he suspended his campaign. He formally endorsed U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who withdrew from the race at the end of last year.

Graham, like Wilson, has emphasized the importance of national security in 2016 presidential platforms, but Graham went in a different direction: He has endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as the best choice to be commander-in-chief.

Clarification

A previous version of this story suggested Wilson had endorsed Scott as well as Graham. The only candidate he has endorsed in this election cycle so far has been Graham.

Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.