Commentary Magazine


Romney Laughs Off Reports on Rubio

Mitt Romney is laughing off the reports that Marco Rubio isn’t being vetted for a VP spot. But also isn’t denying it (and neither are any anonymous campaign sources), which is telling:

Mitt Romney responds to an ABC News report that said his campaign was not vetting Sen. Marco Rubio as a possible running mate.

“I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on,” Romney said. “I’m not going to comment on the process, of course, but I can tell you this: Only Beth Myers and I know who’s being vetted.”

The speculation is tripping up the Romney campaign’s messaging on the last leg of its economic bus tour, which obviously isn’t ideal for them. One minor consolation is that it also seems to have squashed a lot of the media interest in his immigration plan.

Still, it’s an inconvenience — and one that, oddly enough, was leaked directly from Romney campaign sources, according to WaPo’s report. Why would Romney’s own aides do this? There are a few possibilities, but it could be they were unhappy that the campaign wasn’t vetting Rubio, and wanted to generate some outside pressure from conservatives. If so, it worked. Not only is Romney getting slammed for this by conservative pundits, his campaign is probably fielding calls from fuming supporters and donors. And with this list of less-than-tantalizing possibilities, who can blame them:

Other vice presidential candidates, including Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, are undergoing a more intensive review, according to two Republicans close to the campaign.

Romney campaign spokespeople, as well as top aides to Rubio, declined to comment on the vice presidential candidate search, which has been under way for two months.

Rob Portman is as boring as a rice cake, but his lack of name recognition at least gives him some mystery with the Republican base that the Romney campaign can try to stir up into excitement. Tim Pawlenty, on the other hand, would be a bizarre choice. Is there anyone out there who would be persuaded to vote for Romney because Pawlenty was on the ticket? During the primaries, Pawlenty basically ran as Romney-without-Romneycare, and Republican voters still rejected him. He would also emphasize all of Romney’s personality flaws that the Obama campaign is trying to highlight — and that’s before you even get to the inconvenient ObamneyCare issue.