Rubio beats back VP rumors, hails immigration plan
April 19th, 2012
01:04 PM ET
3 years ago

Rubio beats back VP rumors, hails immigration plan

Washington (CNN) - Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida put his foot down once again Thursday, firmly denying he would accept an offer from Mitt Romney to join the GOP ticket and floated another name for the spot instead.

"We got a lot of really talented people out there that Mitt Romney will get to pick from," Rubio said. "I think (Ohio) Sen. Rob Portman would be a phenomenal choice for vice president. That's where I would encourage him to look."

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The senator made his comments while attending an event on demographics at the Newseum in Washington. Asked by National Journal's Major Garrett in an interview on stage if he would definitively reject a vice presidential proposal this year, Rubio said "yes."

"You know that's not going to happen," he said. "The bottom line is I really want to do a good job in the Senate. I think the Senate is a very valid place to shape and drive American policy."

With a recent Pew Research Center poll showing President Barack Obama with a 40-point advantage over Romney among Hispanic voters, some political observers have noted choosing Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles and a popular senator in the Sunshine State, could help bring Latino voters into the GOP column this fall.

A high-ranking Latino, however, recently claimed Rubio, 40, did not have enough experience for the position. Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told CNN that Rubio might generate interest among Latinos "for the first 12 hours if selected for the number two spot, but that won't last.”

The junior senator and rising GOP star has repeatedly shot down the increasing speculation, saying he does not want the job and arguing Republicans have to do more to win the Latino vote than pick him as the party's vice presidential nominee.

"You can't just put somebody on there and say, 'This is gonna deliver it.' You've got to earn it, and primarily I think you earn it through economic policies," he said Friday in an interview with CNN en Español.

In an ironic slip-up on Thursday, however, Rubio clearly demonstrated all the recent veep-talk has taken root.

"Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as vice president–" Rubio said, immediately pausing after realizing he misspoke.

"I'm sorry," he added, laughing at himself as the crowd roared. "If I do a good job seven years from now as senator, I'll have a chance to do all sorts of things."

Rubio also gave a glimpse Thursday of his upcoming immigration law, a piece of legislation many refer to as the Republican alternative for the Democratic-backed DREAM Act that proposes a path to citizenship for students who attend college or join the military.

While not going into specifics, Rubio said the plan would grant legal status–not citizenship–for those who want to study in the U.S. To gain citizenship, Rubio argued they must go through the system legally, but they can do so from the United States rather than go back home and apply from their respective countries.

"It doesn't create a special pathway to citizenship, but it doesn't prohibit a pathway," Rubio said.

Hitting back at criticism of his plan as creating a "permanent underclass," Rubio said it would provide a better opportunity than the current situation for illegal immigrants.

"There is no limbo. The limbo is what they have now," he said. "They would have a non-immigrant visa, which would legalize them in this country and allow them to get a driver's license and go to work and pay taxes."

While his plan would still require that individuals go through the legal application process, their main benefit under the law, he said, would be the chance to stay in the country while they wait "their turn to come up in the process."

The loophole counters what many Republicans, including Romney, have called for in the battle over immigration. On the campaign trail, the candidate consistently argued illegal immigrants should go home and "get in line" to come back to the U.S.

"I think we have to follow the law, and insist that those that have come here illegally ultimately return home, apply, get in line with everyone else," Romney said at a South Carolina Republican debate in January.

Rubio said he hoped the all-but-certain GOP nominee would get on board with his new bill, which he aims to finalize this summer. The senator said he has not had any personal discussions with Romney over the plan, but members of their respective staffs have been in contact.

"I think it's important. He's now the leader of the Republican Party, so I would hope that we could convince him to support a concept like this," he said Thursday.

Romney's campaign, meanwhile, has said the candidate is open to examining the plan.

"Gov. Romney will study and consider any proposals on immigration from his Republican partners," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. "We must work together on protecting and strengthening legal immigration, securing our borders, ending illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner, and ensuring that any reforms do not encourage further illegal immigration."

Asked Thursday about the controversial immigration law in Arizona, Rubio said he understands why the state wanted to take action and supported their constitutional right as a state to enact their own law, but argued the law was not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Passed in 2010, the Arizona rule requires local police, during the enforcement of other laws, check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being undocumented.

"I do not believe laws like Arizona's should be a model for the country," he said. "I would much rather the federal government deal with illegal immigration issues."

Also see:

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Filed under: 2012 • 2012 VP Pick • Immigration • Marco Rubio • Mitt Romney
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Yes, Rubio will make a great VP or President down the road. Right now though he doesn't have enough experience on the national stage.

    April 19, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Whatever

    Mitt Romney, over the weekend, in secret, to his doner buddies. We need to court the Latino vote, we need a republican DREAM act....3-4 days later, here comes Rubio with a "Republican DREAM act" What a shocker.

    April 19, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Donkey Party

    Rubio's lies would only come under further scrutiny if he were a VP candidate. Although, if he ascribes to be as accomplished a liar as Willard Romney, then perhaps he should reconsider the position.

    April 19, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. LBAM

    I want to see Rubio's birth certificate. He may have been born in Cuba.

    April 19, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. macrasta

    Donkey Party, I am with you....Rubio is a charlatant..

    April 19, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. NVa Native

    Rubio has too many skeletons in his (short) past.

    April 19, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Real-Stay-At-Home-Mom

    I bet a Republican DREAM Act will NOT include a path to citizenship in order to disenfranchise Latinos from voting.

    April 19, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. NVa Native

    I think Romoney was born in Mexico and Rubio in Cuba ~ they both must produce a legitimate birth certificate.

    April 19, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Hispanics aren't stupid, they know the Republican party is like "Judas" and know if "the Republicans deny them once they will deny them twice". Furthermore, the hate Republicans show for Obama sends a strong message to Hispanics whom Republicans have denounced as citizens.

    April 19, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Yes he would make a wonderful GOP Presidential or VP nominee.....lies about his family history to garner sympathy, rams through legislation, that, among other things, triples the " justifiable homicide" rate in a state already riddled with gun violence, advocates tax cuts and so-called reform for Medicare that would devastate the retiree community in his home state...yep, he's a winner for the GOP alright. I'm also sure that he would fight to keep the unique immigration status that Cubans enjoy intact, where they are eligible for citizenship in 12 months. Way to pander, GOP. Put a worthless empty suit in an attempt to garner a portion fo the electorate, the ole' Quayle/ Palin tactic.

    April 19, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. johnborg

    I support the DREAM Act, but I think we have to negotiate in these situations, such as when Congress is split. I think Rubio's plan is a good middle-ground position and that we (pro-immigrant) should support it until we have the right majority to further pursue the DREAM Act. So, good for him, for standing the middle-ground.

    April 19, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Rubio's plan to deny citizenship will create a lower class system like in most third world countries. I really don't thin k that will play well with Latinos.

    April 19, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Beverly - NYC

    Someone's hair plugs are showing. Look like the Republican rising star has realized that he won't make it through the Vet.

    April 19, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Rubio speaks well to the Conservative common sense needs of the country. But I agree with him that the VP Spot needs to go to someone else. I don't have any Canidiates but I am sure Romney will pick a very quailfied person. Aw well, now I like Joe Biden but not for VP! So we will change that in November. Ya'All Take care, hear.

    April 19, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Rubio is one of MANY great young up and coming Republican candidates. Democrats have almost none because so many have been thrown out of office. Obama, Reid and Pelosi and their far left "progressive"/socialist/communist party will be dealt with very harshly in 2012 just like they were in 2010. 2012 was apocalyptic on the Mayan calander and it appears they were referring to the Democrat Party, not the planet.

    April 19, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If Romney is considering Rubio, get a complete background check first. You don't want a shoe to drop and find a problem. As for accepting a new immigration plan from Republicans only shows that Romney has a lack of vision and acceptance. We need to start looking at all the options for immigration. For those that are here illegally, I say that they can do something to make amends as it were for their illegal crossing. The adults that came here illegally should never get citizenship. Legal resident is a differnt story because they don't get to vote as I believe.

    April 19, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    Rubio isn't going anywhere, inside or outside of the Republican Party. His political days are numbered thanks to the political decline of TeaParty fanatics. He's got himself nothing more then a bad case of Paul Ryan rising star fatigue.

    April 19, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. ST

    Republican Dream Act will not sway the Latinos.
    My friends Latinos let me remind you what Romney said during the primaries:
    a. self deportation of illegal immigrants
    b. objected Gingrich idea of immigrants who have been in country 25yrs or more be allowed as legal residents
    c. he attacked Rick Perry who allow college tuition to children of illegal immigrants
    d. described the controversial Arizona law as "a model for the nation".

    April 19, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. mm

    Rubio wouldn't work where Romney needs a vp to shore up his ticket. Another Southern state: SC with prominent GOPers: Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham. Neither are going to work for nearly the same reasons. Bobby Jindal – nothing to offer. Bob McDonnell – sure, if Romney wants to go down in flames faster than he already is.

    April 19, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Latino Americans won't vote for an Elitist Cuban American .

    Cuban have always received favor in regards to immigration policy.

    April 19, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. RealityBites

    "Marco Rubio firmly put his foot down once again Thursday."
    And yet, we can fully expect the collaberating news networks to continue beating this dead horse again and again. Anything/ and/or everything else other than an honest report on Obama's gaffe of a VP.

    April 19, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Randy, San Francisco

    Rubio's immigration plan won't pass the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh purity test.

    April 19, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Thomas - Cuban have always received favor in regards to immigration policy.
    =============================================================
    Geez, couldn't have anything to do with fleeing a brutal communist dictator in Cuba could it? It is called political amnesty. Or do you advocate sending them back to be jailed or shot?

    April 19, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Larry L

    Rubio's "plan" is simply a Republican version of the Dream Act. Reminds me of Romneycare vs. Obamacare... When they see a good plan politics won't let them embrace it.

    April 19, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. WhereIsPalin

    Let's visit Rubio again in 3 years. Give him a chance to prove his worth.

    April 19, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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