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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Insider Poll: Vice President Marco Rubio edition



marcomitt.jpgInside the Washington Beltway and among Republican activists across the country, it often sounds like there’s only one home run pick for vice president — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Rubio, 40, overwhelmingly won a Conservative Political Action Committee Conference (CPAC) straw poll this month for their preferred vice presidential candidate. He finished well ahead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 800 registered Republicans and independents released this week also found

Rubio was the top VP choice, ahead of Rick Santorum, Christie and Sarah Palin.
But what about the politicos who know Rubio best? The latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll found significant skepticism about putting Rubio on the presidential ticket.

"All my optimism about Rubio comes with the caveat that he weather the intense scrutiny he will face as a VP nominee. There are small skeletons in his closet that, if handled properly will remain small. If not, they will be devastating," said on Republican.
Among more than 100 Florida lobbyists, activists, political operatives and fundraisers who participated in the survey, Rubio was most frequently named as the best pick for vice president, regardless of the nominee.

Still, three-quarters of respondents did not name Rubio as the best choice and only 37 percent said he would be a safe pick.

"The national media would shred Rubio over the RPOF scandals, and he's too close to it for him to risk his image," said one conservative independent.

These are Florida politicos who paid close attention to Rubio’s tenure as Florida House speaker. They are more likely to be acquainted with the baggage that surfaced in his 2010 Senate race — using Republican party credit cards to pay for personal expenses, sometimes messy personal finances and sloppy adherence to financial disclosure requirements.

"Rubio's current appeal would wane once subjected to the scrutiny afforded VP nominees," said a Democrat. "For starters just look at the dust up over his inaccurate account of his families immigration history which surfaced when he was first mentioned as a possible nominee."

The Florida Insider Poll does underscore Rubio’s potential strength as a running mate. More than six in 10 insiders said he would help the ticket nationally and three out of four — including 44 percent of Democrats surveyed and 90 percent of Republicans — said he would help deliver Florida to the GOP. Considering that it’s close to impossible for Republicans to unseat President Barack Obama without winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes, that alone could be reason enough to beg Rubio to join the ticket.

"Rubio is the complete package-- especially if Romney is the nominee.  He has the potential to bring the tea party, pro-life Catholics, Evangelicals, and Latinos to the table.  In this regard he excites the base and brings them to invest time and money," offered another Republican. "He also helps to deliver Florida to the GOP nominee as Florida is the easiest path for Obama to win the election.  His denials are to keep the attention off of him until the time when he informed that the fate of the Republic rests on his shoulders.  Then he goes all in if asked.  If Santorum wins he has much less need for Rubio than Romney does."

Florida’s junior senator has repeatedly said he has no interest in running for vice president and won’t be on the ticket, but 57 percent of our insiders predicted Rubio would accept the nomination if asked.

"Rubio is attractive but untested under real fire. He could become the Dan Quayle of 2012 if not vetted properly. Great potential, but in the future," said another independent.

Twenty-three percent of the 113 Florida insiders who participated named Rubio as the best pick, 17 percent named Christie, 12 percent preferred Jeb Bush (he’s never ruled it out that we know of, but it’s sure hard to imagine him in a No. 2 role), and 7 percent said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Santorum, Virginia Gov. McDonnell, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio each received votes from nearly 3 percent of the insiders.

"Marco deserves the opportunity to mature as a national political figure, but yes, he would help a ticket lacking in star power, and would deliver Florida," said another Republican. "America hasn't really seen Marco on the full stage yet, only those few that follow politics closely at the national level have experienced the Marco presence.  Pick him, and the new ""Game Change"" movie in 2014 would feature Javier Bardem in the role of Albert Martinez."

The survey included 65 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and nine independents. They are:

Cynthia Henderson, Meredith ORourke, Nancy Watkins, Brian Crowley, Ben Pollara, Alex Heckler, Alberto Martinez, Dylan Sumner, Andrew Gillum, Tre' Evers, Eric Johnson, Erin VanSickle, John Stemberger, Kathleen Shanahan, Sally Bradshaw, Steve Schale, Todd Wilder, Cory Tilley, Roger Stone, Lucy Morgan, John Morgan, Frank N. Tsamoutales, Eric Jotkoff, Screven Watson, Towson Fraser, Van B. Poole, Justin Day, Trey McCarley, Stephen Shiver, Ana Navarro, Ana Cruz, Tim Baker, Barry Horenbein, Peter Schorsch, Greg Turbeville, Chris Ingram, Susannah Randolph, Tyler Hudson, John Dowless, Jeffrey garcia, Barbara Lumpkin, Donald Hinkle, Vincent Harris, Kristy Campbell, Robert coker, Mike Hamby, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Kathy Mears, Henry Kelley, Aubrey Jewett, Sarah Rumpf, Jamie Miller, Bernie Campbell, Jim Rimes, Nancy P. McGowan, Karen unger, Mel sembler, David Johnson, Stephanie Kunkel, Alex sink, David Rancourt, Dan Smith, Carlos Curbelo, Husein Cumber, Ellen Freidin, Dave Aronberg, Apryl Marie Fogel, Richard Gentry, Marc Reichelderfer, Ann Herberger, Thomas Eldon, Kevin Cate, Jill Chamberlin, Gus Corbella, Abel Harding, Kirk Wagar, Richard Swann, Christina Johnson, Alex Burgos, Darryl Paulson, Susie Wiles, Nick Hansen, Greg Truax, Cindy Graves, Rich Heffley, Marty Fiorentino, Scott Arceneaux, Tom Lee, Shannon Gravitte, Brett Doster, Jeff Johnson, Derek Newton, Jim Cherry, Jim Davis, Kirk Fordham, Kenneth Quinnell, Matt Towery, Mark Bubriski, Rockie Pennington, Mike Hanna, Phil Vangelakos, Andy Ford, Al cardenas, Ron Sachs, Rick Dantzler, Carol  Carter, Mark Gilbert, Al Hoffman, Jordan Raynor, David Custin, Mitchell Berger.

[Last modified: Saturday, February 25, 2012 8:49pm]


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