(CNN) - Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was joking when he said at a Florida fundraiser last spring that he would have a better shot at winning the presidency if he were Latino, Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday.
On a conference call with reporters, Rubio said that the comments - recorded secretly and published earlier this week along with other clips of the same event by a left-leaning magazine - were intended to be a line of humor.
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"Well I think he meant it as a joke," Rubio said. "At least, that's how most reasonable people would take it."
In the fundraiser, Romney said, "My dad, you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico.
"Had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot at winning this, but he was unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico," Romney said to laughter at the fundraiser. "They'd lived there for a number of years, and I mean I say that jokingly, but it'd be helpful if they'd been Latino."
Rubio, who is Cuban American and a rising star in the GOP, and Romney acknowledged the candidate was on the list of people he was vetting to join his presidential ticket.
The Senator from Florida said Romney has made a similar reference or joke like that in the past.
Romney is to speak Thursday evening at a forum hosted by the Spanish-language television network Univision, then hold a rally in Miami, Florida.