By coming forward to insist that he is considering the right's favored candidate, Romney showed his running-mate decision isn't happening in a vacuum.
On Tuesday morning, ABC reported that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was not being considered as a potential running mate by presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Speculation immediately broke out as to the source and motivation for the information becoming public. Was it a swipe from Rubio enemies within the Romney camp? A leak from friends of Rubio indignant at the oversight? But given that both Rubio's and Romney's camps were displeased by the disclosure -- Rubio's people were annoyed at the apparent slight, while Romney's were galled by both the specter of a leaky operation and the appearance of having slighted an ally -- the likeliest explanation seems this: It was true.
As such, it wasn't all that surprising. Despite his rock-star status on the right, Rubio's veepstakes stock has always been viewed skeptically by the Beltway wise men. Rubio is beloved by Republican Party activists, who see him as both a true believer in the conservative cause (somewhat unaccountably considering his championing of immigration reform and his gestures toward a centrist foreign policy) and a politically potent symbol for a party struggling to insist it's not composed entirely of white men. He has run away with two consecutive vice presidential straw polls conducted by the Conservative Political Action Conference. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans have heard of him, and 42 percent view him favorably, according to a new Gallup poll. And all you have to do is hear Rubio speak to be made abundantly aware of a rare, raw political talent in the Obama mold. He is a great storyteller with a great story to tell, fueled by a burning core of ideological passion, and he rarely gives the same speech twice.