Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the most buzzed-about potential running mates for Mitt Romney, says he will not be the party’s vice presidential nominee even if Romney personally asks him.
“I don’t want to be the vice president right now, or maybe ever,” Rubio said at a National Journal forum in Washington on Thursday.
The usual disclaimer: Potential vice presidential often publicly express a lack of interest in the position, a pose that guards them against seeming presumptuous or charges that they’re preparing to abandon their constituents for personal ambition.
Still, Rubio’s comments Thursday went at least a half-step farther than previous denials. Asked whether he would turn down a direct request from Romney to join the ticket, Rubio replied, “Yes.”
“But you know he’s not going to ask,” Rubio said. “That’s not how this works. He’s watching this interview so he’ll know.”
Rubio nonetheless defended his vice presidential resume, batting away a question over whether he felt qualified for the position given his relative youth (he’s 40).
Republican strategists have long suggested Romney needs a Hispanic running mate to help make inroads with a key voting bloc in danger of leaving the GOP for a generation over its hard-right immigration position. But if Rubio is genuinely out of the game, the party’s options are very limited. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is popular but has issued an extremely strong denial herself, saying she needs to take care of her disabled sister and father. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is pro-choice, likely an instant disqualifier.
Evan McMorris-Santoro contributed to this post.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.