Romney: Marco Rubio Being Vetted for Vice President

Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012 06:20 PM

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Contradicting several published reports Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney confirmed that his campaign is "thoroughly vetting" U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as a vice presidential running mate and challenged the sources who said otherwise.

"I can't imagine who such people are, but I can tell you this: They know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process," Romney told reporters in Michigan. "The story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process."

Earlier in the day, Romney had refused to comment on reports that Rubio, a rising star in Republican politics, wasn't under consideration as a potential running mate.

Romney added that reports to the contrary came from sources that have “no knowledge” of his team’s selection process.

Editor’s Note: Get Marco Rubio’s New Book for ONLY $4.95! That’s $22 Off!

That directly contradicted anonymous sources identified as Romney advisers who apparently told The New York Times and Washington Post that Rubio wasn’t seriously being considered for the VP slot.

“Obviously Rubio is an all-star within the Republican Party and it would be awful if he was not vetted — even if he is not selected,” observed GOP political strategist Bradley Blakeman, who served in the last Bush administration, and is also a Newsmax contributor. “Rubio is central casting as a vice president as a complement to Romney. He’s the opposite of Romney. He’s not wealthy. He’s Hispanic. He’s brought here as a first-generation immigrant from Cuba so it’s a good contrast and complement to Romney.”

ABC News first reported Tuesday morning that Romney’s campaign had not asked Rubio to complete a questionnaire or submit any personal financial documents, an account that one outside Romney adviser confirmed to The Washington Post on Tuesday. The adviser left open the possibility that Romney officials could decide to thoroughly vet Rubio later, the Post reported.

Romney officials conducted a preliminary review of Rubio, mostly using documents, statements and news reports that are publicly available, another adviser told the Post. The team did similar public vettings of a large number of other candidates before whittling them down to a short list for a more thorough investigation.

Romney compounded the confusion earlier in the day by seeming to confirm that Rubio wasn’t in the running on Sean Hannity's radio show:

Hannity: "What did you make of the ABC News report this morning that said Marco Rubio was not being vetted but Governor Tim Pawlenty was being vetted? Any comment on that story?"

Mitt Romney: "I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on. I'm not going to comment on the process of course. But I can tell you this: only Beth Myers and I know who is being vetted." Hannity: "Does that mean Ann Romney doesn't know?"

Romney: "Even Ann doesn't know. We talk about the possible people that I might select. But in terms of actually who is being vetted, that is something only two people know. And Beth Myers doesn't talk." Hannity: "Is there a shortlist?"

Romney: "There are a number of people who are being vetted and that is obviously the group we are considering most seriously."

Earlier this month Rubio emerged as the clear first choice of conservative activists as a running mate for the GOP presidential nominee, beating out his nearest rival by a two-to-one margin according to a poll of more than 500 attendees of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) gathering in Chicago.

The freshman Florida lawmaker received 30.4 percent of the first-place votes from CPAC delegates, more than twice the number for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, named by 14.2 percent of the respondents. In third place among the 23 possible vice presidential candidates named in the poll was House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Rubio, a tea party-backed favorite and a rising star in the party following his 2010 primary win over then-GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, has not categorically ruled out a vice presidential run, but has said repeatedly that he does not expect to be chosen and wants to build his record in the Senate.

He has campaigned with Romney and recently released English- and Spanish-language statements in support of the nominee.

Romney has also been working in references to the 41-year-old Florida senator in his stump speech, drawing sustained cheers at Republican rallies.

Based on Romney’s statement that he would consider making his pick ahead of the convention in August, Blakeman believes that the announcement will be sooner rather than later.

“There’s no reason for him to say that unless it’s likely to happen. The only question for me is when will it be,” said Blakeman, a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University, who appears regularly on Fox. “I think standing on tradition and waiting for the convention makes no sense at all to me. I’d rather win an election than have a surprise at the convention.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: Get Marco Rubio’s New Book for ONLY $4.95! That’s $22 Off!
 

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