Rumors are Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is not on the “short list” of possible vice presidential running mates to run on Mitt Romney’s ticket. The latest rumors swirling around mention Republicans such as former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, or Ohio Senator Rob Portman, among others. But the Cuban-American Senator and rising GOP star has not been mentioned in a while.
Republican strategist Danny Vargas says if this is the case, he is not surprised. “While Rubio could have brought a level of understanding about Latinos as well as the philosophies of Tea Party activists, such as limited government growth, he has only been on the national legislative scene for two years,” says Vargas.
Vargas thinks Republicans might be focusing on experience more than demographics. “To the extent that someone can bring demographic or geographical representation that’s great, but after Sarah Palin, I think having a solid record with years of experience, and being ready to be number two behind the President, will be the Republicans’ top priority.”
Political scientist Casey Klofstad, at the University of Miami, adds there might be other reasons why Rubio could be off the “short list.”
“One is the fact Rubio had attended the Mormon church when he was very young,” says Klofstad. “Though he stopped attending the church a long time ago, the religion is novel enough and unfamiliar enough for some voters that it might have been hard for Romney, who is a Mormon, to ‘double that’ by having Rubio on the ticket,” he adds. Klofstad also says Rubio’s inconsistencies on when and why his parents came to the U.S. from Cuba, while it may all be cleared up, could be a distraction during the tough scrutiny of a presidential campaign.
Then there is the question of whether Rubio would “bring” Romney more votes, especially among Latinos.
Stephen Nuño, who teaches political science at Northern Arizona University and who is writing a book on Republican outreach to Latinos, does not think so. “I don’t see the Romney campaign making an aggressive effort to get more Latino voters, especially in the Southwestern states,” he says. If the campaign is more focused on attracting “gettable” voters like blue-collar, white voters, Nuño adds, they might be focusing on states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and thinking of a vice presidential nominee who could better appeal to or represent these voters.
Where does this leave Rubio, who has been elevating his national position through a series of high-profile speeches, a bestselling book and even an alternative “Dream Act” proposal?
“Senator Rubio is in a great position to raise his national profile even more,” says Vargas. “He can continue to position himself as a statesman, and he is only 41 years old,” adds Vargas. ”He has plenty of time for future elections.”