Senator Marco Rubio can say he does not want to be Mitt Romney's running mate a million times, but that won't stop the media from buzzing about the possibility. Rubio could do cartwheels down the Senate floor before singing "I Don't Wanna Be VP" to the tune of Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" and he'd still be on every publication's speculative shortlist.
All that speculation and attention however means that every little bit of Rubio-related news gets a big of extra emphasis in the press, and that's why everyone's talking about the revelation that Rubio's 2010 senate campaign was fined $8,000 by the Federal Elections Committee for receiving "prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions totaling $210,173.09."
To wit, the Herald article on the fine is not titled "Rubio fined $8000 by FEC," but rather "Case against Marco Rubio for VP grows by $8,000." Marc Caputo then makes the case that the sloppy paperwork responsible for the fines is part of a bigger pattern of incidents that prove Rubio may not be ready for the White House, even if it is only the VP's office.
Of course, Caputo also infers that no one would really care much about the fine if there wasn't so much VP buzz around Rubio.
"The fine is a pittance for a campaign that raised about $21 million," he writes. "The errors appear to be relatively small and largely clerical."
The Buzz also reports this morning on another $1,360 fine slapped on the Rubio campaign by the SEC in January. That "pittance" of a fine also probably would have remained under reported if Rubio wasn't quite so prominent at the moment.
This is the curse side of the blessing coin Rubio received by gaining so much national attention in such a short amount of time. As long as the possibility remains that Rubio could be Romney's running mate, every little thing he does or says will get just a little more scrutiny than that of a regular senator.
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Not that an $8000 fine would really matter if Rubio was picked. No one's going to be in the voting booth and think to themselves, "Well, I really like this Romney guy, but his running mate seems to have a history of sloppy paper work and shadiness, so I'll just go ahead and vote for Obama." But the media is preparing a larger portrait of the man should he find himself on the ballot, and details like this do matter if they help paint the larger picture.
Of course, all the extra scrutiny could be good for Rubio if he doesn't end up on the ticket. Hopefully it will teach him to keep his financial house in slightly better order and avoid future mistakes, so that if one day, long down the road, he decides to mount his own presidential campaign this kind of news will be irrelevant.