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Who Will Romney Pick to Be His Running Mate?

1:23 PM, Mar 30, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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With Mitt Romney leading the delegate race and the rapid coalescing of conservatives around him – Jeb Bush, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan with formal endorsements, and Jim DeMint and Pat Toomey with quasi-endorsements – there is increasing speculation about who the former Massachusetts Governor would pick as a running mate if he wins the Republican nomination.

Mitt Romney

I talked about this with Romney last week:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD: “I listened to your interview this morning with Charlie Sykes. You told him that if you won the nomination you’d have a long list of potential running mates that would include Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. Do you have someone who’s in charge of the vetting process?”

Mitt Romney: “I do not. And if I said that it’s not exactly what I meant to say. I meant to say anybody would have a long list.”

TWS: “That may be what you said. I may be mischaracterizing it.”

Romney: “I don’t have a list at this stage. I haven’t put together a list. I haven’t done any thinking about a VP contender at this point. I would anticipate that whoever our nominee is would start with a very long list because frankly we have quite a group of people who have the skill and the credibility to be viable members of a national ticket. So he asked me about a couple of names but there are – I don’t have to tell you this – there’s a long list of very capable folks, including people who’ve run this cycle.”

TWS: “Would anyone on that list be pro-choice?”

Romney: “No.”

Romney’s last point rules out (very, very) long shots like Rudy Giuliani and perennial mention Tom Ridge. But it would also eliminate Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who has been the subject of some recent running mate chatter.

An article in BuzzFeed Thursday speculates that Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, who is Hispanic and was vetted by the FBI before taking a seat on the federal bench after his appointment by George W. Bush, would be a possibility. “With Eyes on Rubio, Signs that Sandoval Is In the Veepstakes: Senior Republicans are floating the Latino Governor of Nevada as a potential running mate. Like Rubio without the baggage.”

Leaving aside the highly debatable claim that Rubio has “baggage,” Romney’s comments to me last week would seem to rule out Sandoval, who is pro-choice. (Romney said something similar during a presidential forum in South Carolina last September. Speaking of abortion, he declared: “This is an important enough issue that the person I would [have] selected in that position would share my views.” The answer comes at 14:20 of this video.)

So what about Rubio? In an interview with National Review’s Jim Geraghty, Rubio says, “[I]t’s not going to happen. My position on that issue hasn’t changed.”

Geraghty asked Rubio if he’s not expecting to be asked or if he’d turn it down if he was asked. “When you say it’s not going to happen and you’re not interested, they’re not going to ask. You don’t ask somebody to be your vice president who has already said they’re not interested. It doesn’t work that way, as you well know. There’s a process to selecting a vice president. It’s not like asking someone to go to the prom. This is a very significant decision that involves a lengthy process. If you’re not involved in that process because you’ve made it clear you’re not interested, you’re not going to be asked.” 

That’s not true, of course. The man who holds the job now, Joe Biden, told school children earlier this week that he turned down the offer before accepting it. And Dick Cheney turned it down not just once but three separate times before he told George W. Bush that he would serve as his running mate.

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