The news tonight that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had officially endorsed Mitt Romney for President inarguably raised the volume on talk of a Republican ticket of “R and R”—Romney and Rubio, that is.
But Rubio, who gave the former Massachusetts governor his blessings on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, was already the favorite of most Republicans to run for vice president on a ticket with any of the prospective candiates. As HUMAN EVENTS noted in its profile of the Florida conservative as the first in its regular Veepstakes features of prospective GOP running mates, one of the jokes making the rounds at dinner parties of Washington D.C. political reporters is “Who is going to be the presidential candidate on Marco Rubio’s ticket this fall?”
Right now, the big advantage that Rubio gives Romney is timing. A favorite of conservatives in the Sunshine State and nationwide, the 40-year-old Rubio made his announcement six days before the critical primary in Wisconsin. With Romney running ahead of leading rival Rick Santorum in most state polls, Rubio’s endorsement can do nothing but help the Massachusetts man among the more conservative primary voters in the Badger State’s winner-take-all primary.
Whether Rubio then joins Romney on the campaign trail and helps him drum up votes in Pennsylvania’s primary April 24 and other key states leading up to the Republican National Convention remains to be seen. Should the Miami attorney and first-ever Florida House speaker of Cuban heritage go on the stump and demonstrate his magnetic speaking style at Romney’s side, then one can expect a barrage of punditry on Rubio and what he would bring to the GOP ticket this fall.
Even before the announcement on the Hannity show, such talk had already begun. Last week, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Rubio’s political mentor, officially endorsed Romney. In so doing, Bush also said that Rubio would be a “dynamic, joyful, disciplined and principled” running mate and that Romney should turn to him.
Rubio’s friend and fellow freshman GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, himself the subject of vice presidential speculation, told HUMAN EVENTS last week that his first choice to run with Romney was Marco Rubio. Another vice presidential possibility, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, told us she was flattered by the speculation but quickly added “I’m for Marco Rubio [for vice president].”
Pollster and Fox TV commentator Frank Luntz told this reporter at a conference in Pennsylvania March 23 that Romney would be wise to choose from among Rubio, Portman, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Each, explained Luntz, came from a state that gave its electoral votes to Barack Obama in 2008 and each was popular enough to get his respective state to switch to Romney.
“It’s not going to happen,” Rubio told MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell earlier this week, “I’m obviously flattered that people think about me that way. There are some things I’d like to get done here in the United States Senate. I’m enjoying the role that we have here.”
In contrast to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s vow to refuse the vice presidential offer if it comes, Rubio’s remarks leave the door open. And with his endorsement of Romney tonight, a lot of people will say that the door is very much open now.