Romney Says Rubio Getting Vetted for Potential VP Selection

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jun 19, 2012   |   10:53AM    Washington, DC

ABC News is reporting this morning that pro-life Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, is not being vetted for a spot on the ticket with eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

When it comes to the selection of a vice-presidential running mate, speculation abounds and reports that certain potential picks are or are not being considered sometimes must be taken with a grain of salt. That said, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl says, ” knowledgeable Republican sources tell me that Rubio is not being vetted by Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search team. He has not been asked to complete any questionnaires or been asked to turn over any financial documents typically required of potential vice presidential candidates.”

“Although it is possible that Rubio may yet be asked to go through the vetting process, it has been nearly two months since Romney named his long-time aide Beth Myers to run his vice presidential search. The fact that Rubio has not been asked to turn over any documents by now is a strong indication that he is not on Romney’s short list of potential running mates,” Karl continues.

UPDATE:  Later Tuesday, Romney denied the report and said Rubio is under consideration.

“The story was entirely false, Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process,” Romney told reporters.

“There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not. That’s Beth Myers and myself, and I know Beth well, she doesn’t talk to anybody,” Romney added.

The details will likely come out later as to whether Romney will, indeed, choose Rubio despite this attention-drawing report. Some political observers speculate the supposed lack of vetting is a ploy to draw off the mainstream media. Others say Rubio, for family reasons or other political considerations, may have made the decision to not allow himself to be seriously considered — rather than Romney eliminating him from consideration.

That Rubio hasn’t been vetted, if true, doesn’t mean he is out of consideration. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is pro-life and considered a possible selection, hasn’t been vetted either.

Romney praises Rubio frequently on the campaign trail — making it appear the eventual nominee was the one not making the decision, if the decision has been made.

“[Rubio] said something that will stay with me a long time,” Romney said at a recent rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “He said when I was a boy living poor in this country with my family, we saw some other homes, great big homes and fancy cars. He said, ‘I never heard my parents say why can’t we have what they have. Instead my parents said aren’t we lucky to live in a country where with education and hard work, there’s a shot we have of earning that ourselves.’ That’s the nature of America. We’re the land of opportunity.”

Assuming the report is true, one political writer suggests pro-life former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the beneficiary and becomes a more likely running mate.

At the same time, the conventional wisdom that Romney needs to cut his large deficit with Latino voters to prevail over Obama may also be missing the mark. On his bus tour this week, Romney spent time in the white, working-class Rust Belt, hitting small towns without much of a Hispanic presence. It’s becoming as important for Romney to win over white voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin as it is to appeal to Hispanics in Florida, Nevada and Colorado. As Ron Brownstein noted last week, Romney could win the election even if he loses the vast majority of minorities, thanks to Obama’s Mondale-like standing among non-college educated white voters.

That means Romney could badly use a running mate with working-class appeal. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is at the top of many pundits’ lists, but it is another Midwesterner who campaigned energetically for Romney over the weekend that is getting renewed attention in Boston: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty, who launched his Minnesota political career in 2001 by declaring the Republican party was “the party of Sam’s Club, not just the country club.”

Romney has already promised he would select a pro-life running mate and other contenders have the same pro-life commitment as Rubio and Pawlenty — South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Ohio Sen. Bob Portman, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, among others.