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Rubio Gets Donnie; Other New Kids on the Block Might Be Tougher

Wahlberg speaks during a Rubio campaign rally in North Las Vegas on Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t waste any time rolling out some heavy-hitting endorsements, including former New Kids on the Block star Donnie Wahlberg, after hangin’ tough for a second place showing in South Carolina.  

It’s clear that Walberg believes Rubio has the right stuff to be president, but securing the backing of the other four NKOTB members may not be quite as easy.  

First of all, getting Wahlberg was not a given.  

In an August 9, 2015 Facebook post , the star of the underrated CBS show Blue Bloods described himself as an Independent voter who had only voted Republican once in his lifetime. (He told Rubio supporters at a Sunday evening rally that he’d never voted Republican.)  

A couple weeks later last August, Wahlberg tweeted some positive comments about Carly Fiorina after she appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, but that stopped short of an endorsement. That could have changed the course of the primary.  

https://twitter.com/DonnieWahlberg/status/635460323311353856  

Wahlberg probably sang “Please Don’t Go Girl” when Fiorina exited the race after New Hampshire, but now the 46-year-old Wahlberg has lined up behind the 44-year-old Rubio.  

"Even though we do not see eye to eye on every issue, I know that Marco is a man of principle who can be trusted to keep us safe and give each and every one of us a shot at the American Dream," Wahlberg said in a statement. "Marco is a humble man who has not forgotten his roots, and he will fight to make sure that where you come from does not determine how far you can go. We need a leader like Marco to inspire a new Republican party and unite our nation, and I am proud to support him for President."  

The problem for Rubio is that Walhberg might have been the lowest hanging fruit of the NKOTB clan.  

Jordan Knight might be the next most likely to endorse Rubio, in what will certainly be a step by step process for the senator.  

“I lean Democrat but if a Republican makes a good point and has a better idea then that wins out over any ‘side’ I take,” Knight tweeted in October 2010.  

https://twitter.com/jordanknight/status/676957189802692609  

More recently, on Dec. 15, Knight polled his 295,000 Twitter followers about who won that evening’s GOP debate in Las Vegas. Fifty-four percent selected Donald Trump, 24 percent said Rubio, 14 percent chose Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and 8 percent for Ben Carson.  

https://twitter.com/jordanknight/status/28527470583  

Pinning down Jordan’s brother Jonathan, a third member of the group, on partisan politics is more difficult. Although, he did tweet recently that he wasn’t trying to “push vegetarianism on anybody.” Jonathan is also gay, which makes him less likely to vote Republican.  

Joey McIntyre might be a difficult get for Rubio as well.  

McIntyre grew up in a union household and and sang the national anthem in Las Vegas at an International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers event I spoke at prior to the 2010 elections. If McIntyre carries on the union tradition, he is less likely to vote Republican.  

And finally, there is Danny Wood, the awkward fifth wheel of the group. He could endorse Rubio to boost his solo career, but wouldn’t bring the same fire-power to the senator’s campaign, compared to Wahlberg.  

Gonzales can be reached at nathangonzales@rollcall.com or follow him on Twitter at @nathanlgonzales.

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