Marco Rubio, the veepstakes, and the clam strategy

at 03:30 PM ET, 04/23/2012

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is trying a new tack when asked about the GOP vice presidential slot: the clam strategy.

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Rubio said he will no longer engage in the veepstakes parlor game, in which he fields questions ad nauseam about whether he’s interested in the Republican vice presidential nomination.

“I think from this point moving forward, I think it’d be wise for all Republicans to kind of respect that process, myself included, and say moving forward, we’re going to let his process play itself out,” Rubio said, adding: “I’m not even going to discuss the process anymore. I’m going to be respectful of the process he’s put in place.”

Rubio immediately put his strategy into practice today, clamming up during an appearance with Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania.

“I’m not talking about that process anymore,” Rubio said in response to a question about whether a first-term senator is qualified to be vice president.

In reality, it was only a matter of time before Rubio instituted such a self-gag rule.

Over the last few weeks, Rubio has vacillated between saying Romney will not pick him to apparently suggesting that he would turn down the job to, at one point, committing what many saw as a Freudian slip by saying, “if I do a good job as vice president...”

In other words, it was getting ridiculous. And the senator just got tired of playing coy, which is a necessary evil when it comes to the veepstakes.

But the fact is that Rubio’s new strategy makes very clear that he is, in truth, interested in the VP slot. All Rubio has to say is a Shermanesque: ‘I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.’ That would be the end of it (unless, of course, it wasn’t believable).

Instead, we are treated to an endless series of questions in which Rubio deflects about his interest in the job and journalists, sensing some wiggle room, try to exploit it and pin him down.

Meanwhile, every one of those journalists is 99 percent certain that Rubio is interested in the job and would almost definitely accept it if it were offered to him.

Rubio has clearly made himself into one of the favorites for the GOP vice presidential nod — if not the favorite — and that isn’t going to change in the coming months, even if he continues to clam up.

Unlike some other potential candidates who may benefit from being asked about their interest in the job, Rubio’s name is already a mainstay atop the short list for many people, and it’s going to stay that way.

Which means that he can afford to no-comment us to death in the weeks and months ahead.

And that’s probably better for everyone involved.

 
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