Romney, who was vetted by John McCain in 2008 for the running mate spot but lost out to then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has told confidants that he does not want to put a candidate through an intensive review unless he is considering him or her for the job.
“It’s a decision that’s going to be made by basically one person, and there’s a lot of data gathering going on to put those choices out in front of that person,” said one senior adviser to Romney who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the process. “It’s going to be orderly, and it won’t happen, I don’t think, before July 4th. But they’re ready.”
Rubio, 41, was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. The eloquent Cuban American was an instant star in the tea party movement.
“Blue skies ahead,” the outside Romney adviser said of Rubio. “But could he be president tomorrow? I don’t think so.”
Even as his political mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, said the senator would be his pick for vice president, Rubio insisted that he had no interest in joining the national ticket.
In late March, when he endorsed Romney, Rubio told Fox News: “I don’t believe I’m going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee. That’s not what I intend to be, that’s not what I want to be, and that’s not what is going to happen.”
Still, if he looks past Rubio, Romney risks angering Latinos and conservative activists who hope to see the young star on the ticket.
Portman, Pawlenty and Ryan have been far more active on the campaign trail for Romney than Rubio has. Pawlenty spent two days traveling with Romney
on his campaign bus
last weekend, through New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, while Portman and his wife spent Sunday with Romney and his wife, Ann, as they campaigned across Ohio. And Ryan joined Romney on Monday in Wisconsin.
Ryan and Portman are scheduled to host a Romney fundraiser next week in Washington targeting young professionals, while Pawlenty regularly represents the candidate on political talk shows and at finance events.
Their work has been noted by Romney’s advisers; one of them called Pawlenty “an incredible warrior.” The former Minnesota governor, who was a runner-up in McCain’s veepstakes, has emerged as a favorite among some of Romney’s staffers because he is loyal to the candidate, is consistently on-message and has few airs about him. On the campaign bus this weekend, he chatted with staffers about rock music.
But many Republicans close to Romney consider Portman to be the front-runner for the nod. The outside adviser said that as Romney’s team looks deeper into Portman, they find more that appeals to them — including, the adviser added, that Portman speaks fluent Spanish.
“Anybody that scratches the surface a little bit on Portman starts liking him more and more the deeper they go,” the adviser said.
Rubio has far less of a relationship with Romney. They have campaigned together just once, in Pennsylvania in April. The senator has paid more attention to nurturing his own political pursuits. This month, he will be promoting his new memoir, with a book tour planned through several key presidential voting states.
During his five-day bus tour, Romney said he has been hearing a lot of advice from supporters at his rallies about who he should pick.
“In Wisconsin, I get a lot of people saying, ‘Paul Ryan ought to be your VP,’ ” Romney said. “When I’m in Ohio, I get Rob Portman.”