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As Marco Rubio says 'not me,' speculation over Romney VP grows

April 05, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • In this file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks in Washington, D.C.
In this file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks in Washington, D.C. (Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated…)

Reporting from Washington — With a sweep of the first round of primaries in April, and an increasingly narrow deficit in the Pennsylvania polls, Mitt Romney's campaign is all but engaged in the general election. Romney's rhetoric is placing him in direct opposition to President Obama, and now the question is just who will stand by the presumptive Republican nominee's side?

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been a favorite of many to earn the vice presidential nomination, dismissed such speculation Wednesday.

"I'm not going to be the vice president," the senator said in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., flying in the face of those who saw his official endorsement of Romney as a step toward the VP slot.

Both South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin have named freshman Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.), a favorite among the Tea Party constituency, as a possible running mate for Romney. Haley, in an interview with Fox News, also listed Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as viable candidates.

"I love that he has that military experience, he is a public servant willing to serve for the right reasons," Palin said in her support of West. "When I talk about going rogue, what I want is to encourage the GOP nominee to not think that they have to go with somebody necessarily safe."

Haley, like Rubio, has removed herself from contention, telling the Associated Press she would reject a request from Romney to join his ticket.

"The people of South Carolina gave me a chance. I have a job to do and I'm not going to leave my job for anything," she said.

Christie is often mentioned by pundits and politicians alike as a possible nominee, and the governor has been steadfast in his support of Romney since endorsing him in October. Christie has frequently hit the campaign trail to back Romney, making appearances in Iowa and Illinois to stump for the former Massachusetts governor.

Christie also embarked on a trip to Israel this week, buffing up his foreign credentials in what could be perceived as a step toward his emergence as a national candidate.

"If Gov. Romney were to come and talk to me about it, I would listen because I love my party enough and I love my country enough to listen," Christie said on "Face the Nation" in February, a far cry from his stance last year when he said. "I just don’t think that my personality is necessarily suited to being No. 2."

But if Romney’s campaigning in Wisconsin is any indication, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may be the new favorite. The two were almost inseparable in Ryan's home state, smoothly alternating between answers in post-speech Q&A's and backing each other up in their united support for Ryan's contentious budget proposals that recently passed in the House. And it doesn't hurt that Ryan comes from a battleground state the GOP hasn’t won since 1984.

In the end it boils down to what Romney wants out of his running mate. There’s still plenty of time left in the race for him to decide whether he wants someone like Christie, willing to go on the attack, a candidate like West to shore up concerns over Romney's loyalty to conservative ideology or the likes of Ryan to provide the brass tacks basis for Romney's economic vision. And despite what he may have said Wednesday, it's still not impossible for Rubio to change course and hop onto the ticket.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: As Rubio bows out, speculation over Romney’s VP intensifies

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