In the midst of an interview about the pope’s visit to Cuba, Marco Rubio said to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell today that he’s not going to be the vice presidential nominee. It’s not the first time he’s indicated he’s not interested in the vice presidential nod.

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But, but, but … He pushed the release of his autobiography up to the summer and his PAC is doing its own opposition research on him, presumably to preempt possible future competitors.

It all reminds me of Chris Christie’s non-campaign for the presidency. No matter how many times or how colorfully Christie said he wasn’t running, his most ardent fans continued to clamor for his entrance and to cite specious evidence that he was planning to enter yet!

Like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio wants to utilize the position he has now to the fullest possible extent — and conservatives need Rubio in the Senate just like they need Christie in New Jersey. This is a little different than the Christie situation in that it’s easier to say no to a bid you have to initiate than to flat-out say no to a vice presidential nod from the GOP presidential nominee. So, Marco Rubio might be the vice presidential nominee yet — but I don’t think that’s why he’s prepping a national apparatus. He has his eyes on 2016 or 2020, if you ask me.

He’s got nothing to lose by waiting a little bit — and he does potentially have something to lose by saying yes to appearing on the national ticket now. AP explains:

If the economy grows the next two months and unemployment drops, would Rubio want to be on a ticket that suddenly looks like it’s a longshot against The One? He’s a polished speaker and has spent more than a year in the Senate getting up to speed on national policy, so he’d acquit himself well on the trail regardless. Even in a losing effort, the increased national exposure would make him a top-tier candidate for 2016. But there is a stigma in losing, and that stigma would be significant if Romney/Rubio ended up underperforming among the Latino voters whom Rubio’s supposed to deliver. He’s going to be a top-tier candidate in 2016 whether he’s on the ticket or not. Why take the risk in joining it?

Rubio says it and I believe him: He’s not going to be the vice presidential nominee — and that’s a good thing for anyone who would like to see Marco Rubio as president someday down the road.