Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has said it before and on Wednesday he said it again over chatter to the contrary: He doesn't want to join the Republican ticket as a vice presidential candidate -- which is exactly what he'd say if he was planning to run. Rubio reiterated his opposition to joining the race a week after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he would be the GOP's best choice for a vice presidential nominee. Since then, the Tampa Bay Times dug up a pile of evidence that he was, in fact, considering a run: He's asked the Florida Ethics Commission to close out a complaint against him alleging he used Republican money "to subsidize his lifestyle" (an unusual step, apparently), he's invested $40,000 investigating himself to research negative attacks, and he's rushing publication of his memoir from to June from February, the paper reported.
"I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee, but I'm always flattered when people bring it up, I think they mean it as a compliment," Rubio told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday, according to The Hill. But the Tampa Bay Times' sources saw that one coming:
"Marco's saying all the right things, because nobody who wants to be vice president should admit it. But he's bound to be on the nominee's short list and he's smart to prepare for it now,'' said Ana Navarro, a Republican fundraiser and Rubio friend in Miami. "If he does get asked, it will be very hard to say no."
That's a smart bet on Navarro's part. Joe Biden, for example, insisted he was "not the guy" right up until Barack Obama announced him as his running mate in August 2008. In April of that year he said he didn't want the job, even though in June he said he'd take the job if it was offered. And of course as we were reminded in Game Change, Sarah Palin didn't say anything about a VP run until McCain introduced her at the Republican national convention. So it's a safe bet to watch what Rubio does rather than what he says, because if he's smart enough to be vice president then he's certainly smart enough to downplay the speculation about it until the last minute.