Can’t go wrong bashing the media for an unhelpful story, but remember that it wasn’t just ABC’s sources who claimed that Rubio wasn’t being vetted. WaPo heard the same thing from an “outside advisor” to the campaign. Three possibilities. One: Rubio was being vetted but there are multiple people inside Romneyworld with enough of an axe to grind against him that they’ll happily lie to the media about it, even at the risk of damaging Romney. Two: The ABC/WaPo sources were honestly mistaken about whether he was being vetted, in which case I’d sure like to know what led them to get the impression that he wasn’t. Three: They were right. Rubio wasn’t being vetted, but thanks to the uproar today, he will be now. Which raises the possibility that the ABC/WaPo sources are actually fans of Rubio and wanted to force him onto Team Mitt’s radar by creating a public spectacle over this.
Actually, there’s a fourth possibility. As WaPo noted earlier, many candidates are being “vetted” in the sense that the campaign’s conducting a preliminary review of their background based on public information. Only the select few on the short list, however, have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire and provide financial documents. When Mitt says “thoroughly vetted,” does he mean the first sort of vetting or the second?
Mitt Romney makes it official: “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process,” he said today, hours after an ABC report said he was not being considered as Romney’s running-mate.
“There was a story that originated today apparently at ABC based upon reports of supposedly outside unnamed advisers of mine,” Romney said in Holland, Michigan. “I can’t imagine who such people are. But I can tell you this: they know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process. There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not: And that’s Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn’t talk to anybody. The story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.”
There are at least three people who know whether Rubio’s really being vetted — Romney, Myers, and Rubio himself. Has he confirmed that he’s been asked to fill out the questionnaire and provide financial statements apropos of a shortlister? All I’ve seen from him lately is the standard disclaimer that he doesn’t expect to be VP and a few polite demurrals about not wanting to comment on the process. If Romney gave him the green light to speak up, he could settle this in an instant.
Update: Jonathan Karl, who broke the Rubio news this morning for ABC, says Romney’s spinning after the fact.
First, I stand by my reporting. As of 9 a.m. this morning, Marco Rubio had not been asked by the Romney campaign to turn over any documents related to the vice presidential search. He had not been asked to fill out any questionnaires. If Romney was “thoroughly vetting” Rubio, he was doing it without Rubio’s knowledge…
It’s possible that Romney simply had not gotten around to asking Rubio for vetting materials, but his search process has been under way for more than two months…
I am told by several Republican sources that Romney came under intense pressure today from top Republicans who argued it was crazy to take Rubio out of consideration so early. Some argued for Rubio’s appeal as the party’s most effective and charismatic conservative voice. Some argued it is dumb politics to not consider the party’s top Hispanic conservative. It seems Romney, at least now, agrees.