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Before Marco Rubio: A History of Florida Politicians Who Almost Were Vice Presidential Candidates

Given Florida's swing state importance, large population and Southern-but-not-quite status, you'd think that someone from this state would have been on a national presidential ticket by now, at least as a running mate.

The media is currently rife with speculation that Senator Marco Rubio could be Mitt Romney's veep choice. We've seen this all before. Several prominent Florida politicians have been buzzed about as possible VP in the past half century only to find themselves without the job.

Governor Charlie Crist: John McCain, 2008.
After endorsing McCain in Florida, a move that many believe helped McCain lock up the nomination, Crist was floated as a possible running mate. At the time, he was a popular governor who appealed to independents and even some Democrats. Crist was even flown into McCain's ranch for an informal get-together to address their chemistry, and many believe Crist was openly auditioning for the spot (ironically Rubio would use Crist's "ambition" as a line of attack in their later Senate showdown). However, McCain infamously ended up picking Sarah Palin.

Senator Connie Mack III: Bob Dole, 1996 and George W. Bush, 2000.
Mack was considered by many media outlets to be at the top of Bob Dole's VP list in '96. Even eventual running mate Jack Kemp publicly predicted a Dole-Mack ticket. Though, Dole surprised many by picking Kemp, who was much lower on the speculative list in the media's eyes at least, instead.

Four years later Mack was also buzzed about as a possible running mate for George W. Bush. Dick Cheney, who was running Bush's VP search, recently revealed in his memoir that Mack however actually turned down a chance to be officially considered. Cheney himself of course ended up taking the job.

 

Senator Bob Graham: Walter Mondale, 1984, Michael Dukakis, 1988, Bill Clinton, 1992 and Al Gore, 2000.
Yes, Graham, perhaps Florida's most respected and talented politician of the recent past, was considered as a possible running mate for four straight Democratic candidates in a row.

Speculation of a Mondale-Graham ticket was mostly the media's doing, and Mondale wanted to make history with his selection. He ended picking Geraldine Ferraro, the first female on a major ticket.

Graham was actually thoroughly vetted by Dukakis in '88. The Dukakis campaign's major worry: Graham had made a cameo in a Jimmy Buffet music video. Seriously. They were pretty concerned about it, and ended up choosing Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.

Four years later Bill Clinton interviewed Graham for the job and Graham was a confirmed finalist, but Al Gore was chosen instead.

Graham was also briefly under consideration during the early stage of Gore's own VP search, but didn't make the short list.

"I humbly like to believe I could have gotten another 600 votes for him in Florida," Graham recently said.

Governor Reubin Askew: George McGovern, 1972.
Askew was reportedly asked by McGovern to be his running mate (as did lots of others, because, that campaign was a hot mess with little chance of winning), but turned the offer down. McGovern ended up settling for Tom Eagleton. It was revealed shortly after his pick that Eagleton had suffered from depression, and McGovern asked him to step aside and eventually chose Sargent Shriver.

 

Governor Claude Kirk: Richard Nixon, 1968.
Kirk was Florida's first Republican Governor, and quite a controversial and colorful one at that. He described himself as a "tree shakin' son of a bitch." Kirk claims that he had at one point reached an agreement to run with Richard Nixon or Nelson Rockefeller should either get the Republican nomination. In fact, he sort of became obsessed with being selected as VP and didn't make it a secret, but Nixon chose Spiro Agnew instead.

"I tell you what: If Nixon had picked me, he wouldn't have had to resign," Kirk once said.

Governor LeRoy Collins: Adlai Stevenson, 1956 and John F. Kennedy 1960.
Stevenson decided to let the Democratic Convention pick his running mate for him, and Collins' name was included in balloting but he didn't make it past the first round.

Without much to back it up, there's also speculation Collins was considered by Kennedy in 1960. It makes sense as Kennedy clearly wanted to balance the ticket with a southernor. Perhaps if LBJ turned JFK down, he would have made a few calls to TLR. Collins did go on to chair the 1960 DNC that officially nominated Kennedy and Johnson.

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