Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio as Romney’s Vice President: Florida GOP Hopes Fade
FlaglerLive | July 21, 2012
The national media might be abuzz about the names on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential shortlist, but in Florida many folks are mourning the prize they thought they had in the palm of their hands.
A shot at a place in the White House: either U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush as Romney’s running mate.
The largest swing state in the nation appears to be continuing its 167-year drought of not having a favorite son on a major party’s presidential ticket.
“A few months ago they were good to go. People were talking about Rubio or Bush, really excited. Either one of them would have given Mitt a stronger ticket nationwide than he’s going to have with the others he’s vetting,” said Eva Marcoles, a GOP committeewoman from South Florida. “And if Florida really is the state he needs to win to get the White House, then he’s making a huge mistake to rule these two out.”
Garrett Sinclair, a lifelong Floridian and Republican from Ocala, said, “Jeb doesn’t want (the vice presidency). OK. But why dismiss Marco, who has the tea party bonafides Romney needs and is one of the most popular conservatives in America today?”
The former Massachusetts governor appears to be looking elsewhere for a running mate. National media reports have ranked U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana as the leading candidates to be on the ticket. Reports have U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and former U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice as still on the list to end up as Romney’s running mate — but they are underdogs.
While he has been vocal about not wanting to be on the ticket, Bush nevertheless has been actively campaigning for Romney. This week Bush hit the campaign trail for Romney, heading up to Ohio, which, next to Florida, ranks as the biggest swing state on the electoral map.
In a television interview with WCPO in Cincinnati this week, Bush praised Romney’s team for handling the vice presidential process. But the former Florida governor continues to insist that he will not be on the ticket and his son, George P. Bush, told CNN earlier in the month that his father is not being vetted by the Romney camp.
Bush continues to push other contenders for the vice presidency. Speaking in Ohio this week, Bush insisted that Romney could find some excellent potential running mates among leading Republicans.
“I think he’s got a real wealth of choices to pick from,” Bush said about Romney’s pool of running mates. The former Florida governor praised Portman, who served in his brother George W. Bush’s administration, and Rubio who he has pushed before for the running mate role.
National reports indicated last month that Rubio did not make the original short list and the junior senator from the Sunshine State has continued to downplay speculation that he could end up as Romney’s running mate. Rubio has refused to talk about the possibility in recent weeks.
Still, the junior senator from Miami has been filling one of the traditional roles of the vice presidential candidate — attacking the other party’s nominee. With President Barack Obama visiting Florida this week, on Friday Rubio slammed his economic record.
“I think the question for him is going to be, ‘Where are the jobs he promised after he did the stimulus?’ In fact, he hasn’t even met with his own jobs council, which he appointed,” Rubio said on Friday. He’s ignoring their recommendations because he’s too busy out there on the campaign trail. I think the president has a lot of explaining to do to the people of Florida who are still hurting because of the national economic downturn and the fact that everything is worse than it was four years ago when he took over.”
Rubio was also front and center in attacking Obama for his recent comment about how entrepreneurs “did not build” their businesses.
“He was being honest about what he feels,” Rubio said about Obama on “Fox and Friends” on Fox News Thursday morning. “And that’s what we’ve been saying all along. He’s not a believer in the American free-enterprise system. They’ll never admit that because the American people support the American free-enterprise system, so they have to dress it up as something else.
“But the fundamental fact is that this president believes at his core, and has always believed, that the way the economy grows is when he and government have more power to take money and redistribute it into the economy. They’ve always believed that. You remember back in 2008 he said that on the campaign trail and he’s saying it again now. This is fundamentally what he believes.”
Rubio insisted that Obama’s views will play a major role in Florida and other states in the general election.
“I think it’s a reminder to voters in my state, in Florida, and across the country, what a dramatic choice they have here in November between two very different views of our future,” Rubio said. “One where the president and the government is in charge of our economy, and the other where we the people are in charge of the economy.”
Jose Cantera-Oliva of Panama City said he’s holding out hope Romney will still choose Rubio. “Marco is working really hard for Mitt, hard like a No. 2 works for No. 1. I don’t see why all the newspapers think he’s out of the running. I plain don’t believe it.”
But the Romney camp turned to other surrogates to make the same message Rubio is — including some of the Republicans on the short list. Portman went to bat for Romney to rip into Obama for his comments. So did Pawlenty who had been a critic of both Obama and Romney during his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination earlier in the election cycle. Jindal, who like Bush stumped for Romney in Ohio this week, also slammed Obama for those remarks. The Romney camp turned to Ryan this week to hammer Obama on the economy.
As Bush’s and Rubio’s vice presidential chances continue to fade, it’s increasingly looking that Florida will have to wait at least four more years before having its first candidate on a national ticket.
In the 167 years that Florida has been a state, some residents of the Sunshine State have come close. Former Sens. Connie Mack and Bob Graham came close to being named to the vice presidential tickets in recent years. Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was in the running to be William Jennings Bryan’s running mate in 1908, while Thomas Brown, the only Whig to be governor of Florida, garnered 3 votes for vice president at his party’s 1852 convention.
“The next eight years could have been very exciting for Florida,” Marcoles said.