Veep Question of the Day: Who's Being Vetted?
If Marco Rubio isn't being vetted for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket this fall, he's not the only big name getting no love.
The Cuban-American senator from Florida, a rising star who is releasing his autobiography this week, has the most hype around his name. But there are other prominent politicians who say they have not been contacted by presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's campaign, and are not turning over information.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters earlier this month that the Romney campaign hadn't requested any vetting documents, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mitt Romney's liaison to the House, recently told National Journal she hadn't gotten any requests. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who campaigned with Romney last Friday in her state, said a day before that she hadn't been contacted by the campaign. Likewise, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia told WTOP radio on May 29 that he wasn't being vetted.
There's also Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has said that he's "pretty sure" he's not being considered and has been rather vehement in denying interest in the job. Evidence of the latter came Tuesday when two Indiana news outlets reported that Daniels is expected to be named the next president of Indiana's Purdue University, pending a nomination and vote by the school's board of trustees Thursday.
As reports began flying Tuesday about Romney's short list, the former Massachusetts governor played coy and declined to show his hand. "Only Beth Myers and I know who is being vetted," he said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.
Most politicians presumed to be under consideration have taken the same tactic: refuse to answer. But sometimes shifts in phrasing hold clues to what's going on.
Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor and onetime presidential candidate, switched from telling reporters to "take my name off the list" to saying he would be "honored" to take the job. In recent weeks he's gone mute and started refusing to discuss "the process." The same is true of South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who went from saying he hadn't been contacted by Romney's campaign in mid-May to saying he wouldn't discuss the process earlier this month.
Then there's the tactic that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has embraced: flee. When National Journal asked about his vice presidential prospects at the beginning of June, he literally turned on his heel and jogged in the other direction, saying he had to go vote.
Ryan, Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were all named as serious contenders by The Washington Post. But Rubio's reported exclusion from the vetting list right now doesn't necessarily mean he's out. An unnamed adviser to Romney's campaign "left open the possibility that Romney officials could decide to thoroughly vet Rubio at a later date," the Post reported.
Judging by the last two Republican vice presidential nominees, there's still plenty of time for a surprise last-minute pick. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin became a serious prospect shortly before the 2008 convention as John McCain sought to inject excitement into the race. And Dick Cheney, who ran George W. Bush's vetting process in 2000, ended up on the ticket himself.
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