LITTLE ROCK — A day after Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio held a rally in Little Rock, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday endorsed Rubio for president.

LITTLE ROCK — A day after Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio held a rally in Little Rock, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday endorsed Rubio for president.


"The more I’ve watched this election unfold, the more I’ve come to see that Marco Rubio is the only candidate who can unite our nation the way Ronald Reagan once did," Hutchinson said in a statement released by the Rubio campaign.


"Not only is Marco uniquely capable of rallying Americans behind a conservative vision for the future, but he also fully understands what it takes to keep us safe in this dangerous world. I am endorsing Marco Rubio for president today because we need his optimism and strength in the White House," Hutchinson said.


The governor announced the endorsement eight days ahead of Arkansas’ March 1 primary.


The governor previously endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the presidential race, but when Huckabee dropped out Feb. 1, Hutchinson initially held off on throwing his support to another candidate.


Since then, more than two dozen Arkansas elected officials have endorsed Rubio, including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin; state Auditor Andrea Lea; U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro; and the Republican leaders of the state House and Senate.


Hutchinson’s brother, former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, is also backing Rubio.


Rubio’s rally in downtown Little Rock on Sunday was the Florida senator’s first appearance in Arkansas since announcing as a presidential candidate.


Other Republican presidential candidates who have made campaign stops in Arkansas this election cycle include billionaire developer Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.


Trump is scheduled to return to Arkansas for an appearance in Bentonville on Saturday. Cruz is expected to campaign in Arkansas again on Sunday, although details were not immediately available Monday.