Get ready for a Romney-Rubio ticket, Florida. Even as Miami's favorite Tea Party son tells everyone who will listen that he has zero plans to run as vice president this year, the Tampa Bay Times reports that he's studiously following the textbook on how to prepare for a vice presidential run.
He's pushed for open investigations into his finances to be closed, paid a fortune to private investigators to dig up any lingering dirt on his past and even rushed an autobiography to print to beat a critical book by Washington Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia.
"He's bound to be on the nominee's short list and he's smart to prepare for it now,'' Ana Navarro, a Miami Republican fundraiser, tells the Times. "If he does get asked, it will be very hard to say no."
Rubio has insisted that he won't be a VP candidate this year, but the combination of intense lobbying by other conservatives and polls that consistently show that the young senator might be the GOP's only hope of beating Obama seem to be wearing down his resolve.
Lately, Rubio has stuck a national note on hot button issues like debate over the government forcing businesses to pay for employees contraception (he's Catholic and against it) to immigration, which he's asked his conservative colleagues to soften up on.
He's also frantically been trying to whitewash his past -- seemingly in preparation for a national siege against him. The Times reports that his committee has spent at least $40,000 researching negative ads that might launch against him.
(Hey Marco -- save yourself some money and read our feature story "Tea Party Pretty Boy." You'll find every accusation that you abused credit cards, bullied colleagues and built a career on hypocrisy that you could want.)
Rubio's also clearly worried about Roig-Franzia's forthcoming biography. The WashPo scribe already ignited one firestorm with his report that Rubio's family may have embellished their story of fleeing Fidel Castro for Miami.
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Last week, Rubio bumped his own version of his story up from February to June to beat out Roig-Franzia's publication date.
So should Obama be worried? Well, a poll earlier this month found that without Rubio on the ticket, the president would crush any GOP candidate in the vital Latino vote; adding the young Cuban-American would certainly tighten up that crucial demographic.