- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, widely seen as a rising star in GOP ranks, said Wednesday that he did not expect to be the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and “probably” would turn the slot down if it were offered to him.

“I’m not going to be the vice presidential nominee — I’m not focused on that, I’m focused on my job right now — and the answer is going to probably be no,” Mr. Rubio said at a Washington forum sponsored by the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic magazine.

“I don’t crave it,” Mr. Rubio said. “I wanted to be a United States senator. I didn’t run for the Senate as an opportunity to have a launching pad for some other job. One of things that I lament is people somehow come to the conclusion that United States senator is not enough.”

The Cuban-American freshman senator and tea party favorite has emerged as the early favorite in vice presidential speculation, with many GOP operatives believing that he could help the party attract a greater share of the Hispanic vote and carry the critical swing state of Florida.

The betting market Intrade gives Mr. Rubio a 36 percent chance of being on the ticket, with no other prospective candidate garnering more than 10 percent odds.

When asked at the last Republican presidential debate which other candidate on the stage he might pick as his running mate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quipped, “I don’t want to choose anyone on this stage because Marco Rubio isn’t up here.”

Mr. Gingrich added, “I guarantee he will be on the shortlist of anyone who becomes our nominee because he is such a great guy.”

Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner and former Massachusetts governor, recently said that Mr. Rubio — along with Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia — would be among his top choices to join the ticket if he won the nomination.

But Mr. Rubio said he thought he could have a bigger impact if he focused on his duties as a senator.

“If I dedicate the time to it, the seriousness to it, I have a chance to be a part of something like that,” he said. “You’re never going to get to that stage when you’re focused on it as a launching pad for something else.”

Mr. Rubio also was asked about the decision of five GOP presidential candidates to boycott a scheduled January debate on the Spanish-language channel Univision because of reports that the station had tried to pressure Mr. Rubio into giving an interview in exchange for not running a piece detailing the legal problems of one of his relatives.

The network has strongly denied the charges.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Mr. Rubio said. “The whole thing is something I really don’t even want to comment on.”



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