One Romney adviser still hoping for VP Rubio
Some recent reports suggest that Mitt Romney seems unlikely to pick Sen. Marco Rubio to be his running mate. But one outside Romney adviser says he still hopes the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will tap the charismatic young Florida lawmaker.
Al Cardenas, a Rubio mentor and fellow Cuban American from Miami, tells The Post that Rubio would be the smartest choice because the excitement among Hispanic voters in key states and core conservative voters nationally would help boost the Romney’s campaign’s crucial get-out-the-vote machinery.
Cardenas, a former Florida GOP chairman who now heads the American Conservative Union, said he thinks Rubio’s presence on the ticket would boost Romney’s turnout performance in Florida by as many as four percentage points. That’s a big deal in a race that appears to be a dead heat.
“There’s a turnout factor that’s hard to ignore when you’re even-steven in the race,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas, who was a senior adviser to Romney’s 2008 campaign and remains close to the candidate, said he believes Rubio is still getting a serious look for the No. 2 spot, though many insiders believe Romney is more likely to go with a more seasoned (and less headline-grabbing) choice, such as former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty or Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Some Rubio supporters were frustrated last month when news outlets reported that Romney’s search team had not asked Rubio to submit any personal documents or fill out a questionnaire. The reports threatened to further strain Romney’s standing with Hispanic activists and voters who thought the GOP’s most prominent Hispanic pol was not getting a genuine look. Romney moved fast to repair the damage, taking the unusual step of commenting on the otherwise secretive process to say that Rubio was being “thoroughly vetted.”
The senator’s life story as the son of Cuban immigrants who worked his way quickly through Florida politics has attracted widespread attention in recent weeks with the release of two books, one by Rubio himself. His memoir, “An American Son,” has thrust Rubio on a publicity tour that has drawn big crowds, while “The Rise of Marco Rubio,” by The Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia, offers a journalistic account of his background and political rise (and unearthed some factors that might have complicated that vetting process for Rubio.)
Not all of Rubio’s fans want him to be tapped for this year’s campaign, seeing him as a more viable White House contender in the future. GOP strategist and Rubio friend Ana Navarro recently told the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary that she could “think of few worse fates for Marco Rubio than to actually have to be somebody’s No. 2.”
Cardenas said President Obama’s campaign has been spending millions of dollars on advertising to reach Hispanic voters expected to be decisive in Florida, Nevada, Colorado and other swing states — far more than Romney’s campaign has done — and that Rubio would be the instant “antidote” to that differential.
Cardenas declined to say whether he had conveyed his thoughts directly to Romney. Referring to the candidate and his aides, Cardenas said. “Let’s just say they know how I feel.”