Marco Rubio Hedges

In the latest installment of Will He, Won’t He, Florida Senator Marco Rubio opened the door just a crack for the possibility of accepting the Republican vice-presidential slot should Mitt Romney offer it to him. In an interview with CNN yesterday morning, Rubio said:

“Up to now, it’s all been theoretical,” Rubio explained, but now the party has a nominee who has begun the process of finding a running mate.  “Moving forward, we’re going to let his process play itself out,” Rubio said.

While that does look like a purposeful shift in tone after his string of denials over the past year, I don’t think it amounts to much. Everyone hems and haws until it becomes more than a hypothetical. The only person I’ve believed fully thus far is Suzanna Martinez, who said she would decline the VP spot because of family considerations. But for everyone else, it will be  easy to change tone if Romney does offer them the spot. “I know I said I would never be vice president under any situation, but Mitt Romney—our wonderful future president—called and said he needed me not just to help our party, but to help our country. I serve my country when called. I couldn’t let our future president down, and besides, I never meant anything I was saying anyway.” OK, maybe that last part won’t make the final edit, but it’s easy to imagine Rubio, Jeb Bush, or Mitch Daniels making a similar speech later this summer.

What is still interesting to follow is whether someone like Rubio even wants the slot. If Romney’s electoral chances look poor come summer, it will be hard to recruit a rising star like Rubio. He already has a national profile and a comfy elected position; there’s little he can gain from being the No. 2 on a losing ticket, a spot that typically doesn’t translate to future electoral success. If, however, Romney is poised to defeat Obama, then it won’t take much arm twisting to convince Rubio to join the team.

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