Rep. Chaffetz to campaign for Marco Rubio

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz is backing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president.

"Marco Rubio — he is the real thing. He is a great conservative. He has a great record and I think he would be just an amazing president," Chaffetz, R-Utah, told NBC News Wednesday.

Chaffetz, who campaigned around the country in 2012 for Mitt Romney, said Republicans "need to share a positive message about why we need a conservative, and Marco Rubio is the best I've seen."

He said as voters "firm up their decisions, they've got to take a good hard look at all the candidates. I am not going to tell them who to vote for, but I've looked at them all and I think Marco Rubio is the right person."

Rubio's campaign announced Wednesday that Chaffetz will join the GOP presidential candidate in New Hampshire on Friday as a special guest at a town hall meeting.

"Marco Rubio is a conservative leader who understands the challenges facing American families in the 21st century," Chaffetz said in a statement released by the campaign, calling Rubio "a next-generation conservative."

Chaffetz had previously said he did not plan to endorse a presidential candidate this time because of his position as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Earlier this week, though, he told KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright he intended to make an announcement about the race soon rather than wait for Republicans to choose a nominee.

Chaffetz raised concerns about whether billionaire businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump, who leads in most polls, could beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.

"The idea of four or eight more years of a Hillary Clinton at the helm, I just don't think we can take it," Chaffetz said. "I want to find the person with the very best chance to beat Hillary."

All of the other Utah House members have already endorsed Rubio, Reps. Chris Stewart, Mia Love and Rob Bishop.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush early last year, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has said he's not ready to make a pick because he is close to several candidates, including Rubio.

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