Florida Senator and former 2016 GOP candidate Marco Rubio might have a second life in the 2016 campaign if he chooses to take it. The top remaining candidates, frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, are interested in Rubio for their possible vice presidential running mate. The reasons might not all be for Rubio’s political skills but for the over 170 delegates he holds on to that could make or break either candidate’s chance to clinch the nomination. However, on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, Rubio insisted he is not interested in the VP slot.
Cruz mentioned his interest in Rubio as a running mate on Tuesday, April 12, during CNN’s town hall in New York. Cruz praised Rubio to host Anderson Cooper, “Anyone would naturally look at Marco as a terrific candidate for vice president. You’d be a fool not to consider him. He’s very, very talented. I think the world of Marco.” Cruz also commended Rubio’s communication skills and campaign, “He is one of the best communicators in the Republican Party. He ran a campaign that inspired millions of people. It inspired me.”
Cruz however would not admit his campaign is considering Rubio on any short list for VP. In that regard Cruz remained vague in his response, saying, “We’re in the process of looking now at a number of different options. I think very, very highly of Marco.” Despite the heated campaign and harsh words, Cruz said he has no bad feelings towards Rubio. Cruz dismissed it all saying, “It’s a campaign. He was trying to beat me, I was trying to beat him. That’s what happens in a campaign.”
Cruz’s praise for his former rival comes hours after Rubio semi-endorsed the Texas Senator. Rubio gave his first interview since suspending his campaign on March 15 after he lost his home state, the Florida primary. Rubio spoke with conservative host Mark Levin for a “video podcast.” Rubio gave his sort of endorsement after Levin asked whom he believes should become the nominee from the remaining candidates in the mix. Rubio responded, “I hope that they’ll nominate a conservative. The only one [presidential candidate] that fits that criteria is Ted Cruz.” Rubio kept arguing during his campaign that he was the best and most real conservative in the running.
Rubio later told the press, that he was not endorsing Cruz, just responding to a question. The Florida senator clarified, “I’m not endorsing in this race right now. I don’t have any announcement to make. I was just answering the question.” Rubio suspended, not withdrew from the campaign; he retains the delegates he won in the primaries until the first vote of the convention, unless he chooses to release them.
Trump also expressed his interest in Rubio as a running mate earlier on Monday, April 11 in an interview with USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers. When asked about possible VP choices, Trump responded, “There are people I have in mind in terms of vice president. I just haven’t told anybody names.”
The GOP frontrunner mentioned, Rubio, former candidate GOP candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and current GOP rival Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trump said, “I do like Marco. I do like Kasich. … I like Walker actually in a lot of ways. I hit him very hard … but I’ve always liked him. There are people I like, but I don’t think they like me because I have hit them hard.” Trump even put the campaign attacks in the past, especially highlighting his spat with Rubio. Trump excused the behavior, saying Rubio “made a mistake. He became Don Rickles for about four days, and then I became worse than Don Rickles.” This is not the first time Trump has suggested his interest in Rubio as his running mate.
So far, none of the past or present candidates wants to consider being any GOP nominee’s vice president. Walker responded to Trump’s comments by laughing and saying, “I literally just heard it in the car and I said – I laughed – it’s kind of interesting to hear that after the things that were said about me a couple weeks ago.” Walker endorsed Cruz, and helped him campaign resulting in a big primary win for the Texas senator.
Walker says he would rather focus on his present position, Walker’s second term as governor lasts until the end of 2018. Gov. Walker said, “I’m focused on being the governor of the state of Wisconsin…. That’s not even on my radar and it certainly wouldn’t be with – I guess I was shocked more than anything to hear that.” Still Walker finds it an honor even from his former nemesis, “I can’t even fathom that. Like I said, it’s almost breathtaking that I was listed in the first place.”
Neither does Kasich want the job as second in command; the popular Ohio governor repeatedly has said he wants the presidency rather than the VP slot. Kasich most recently said there is “Zero chance,” he would be Trump’s running mate. On Monday, Kasich was very blunt at the CNN town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper, stating, “I’m not going to be anyone’s vice president. I’d be the worst vice president the country ever saw. You know why? Because I’m not like a vice president, I’m a president.”
On Tuesday, Kasich said, “I’m not going to be the vice president. Look, I am running for president of the United States. and that’s it. If I’m not president, which I think I have an excellent shot to be, I will finish my term as governor and then maybe I’ll be a co-host on this show. You never know.” Kasich has zero chance as well to become the nominee; he is remaining in the race as a spoiler and as an advantage in the VP race.
Both Rubio and Kasich are attractive to the two main GOP candidates as running mates because of the delegates they hold. Rubio has 171 delegates and Kasich has 143. A contested, brokered convention is likely, with neither candidate receiving the 1,237 delegates before the end of the primary season. According to the Associated Press’ latest count, Trump has 743 delegates while, Cruz has 532 delegates, still a 200 plus delegates deficit. Trump would need to win 64 percent of the rest of the available delegates up for grabs to secure the nomination outright before the convention.
Both Kasich and Rubio know how valuable they are to Trump and Cruz, and that is why both are play hardball and refusing to be either candidate’s running mate. They are waiting to be wooed by either one, and then they will decide to back the candidate who has the better chance of winning the nomination. For now like Rubio said, “I’m not going to be the vice president.” Neither will admit they are secretly campaigning for the job.