U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio understands the first rule of the vice presidential selection process: Never overtly campaign for the job.
"I'm not going to be vice president,'' Florida's junior senator has told interviewers over and over and over again in recent months.
On Thursday, he even took it a step further as National Journal's Major Garrett pressed him at a Washington forum about whether he would turn down Mitt Romney if the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee beseeched him to join the ticket. Nope, he would he turn it down. He's happy in the Senate where there are pressing issues to handle.
He told Garrett, "If I do a good job as vice president …"
"… I'm sorry. If I do a good job as a senator instead of a vice president, I'll have a chance to do all sorts of things, including commissioner of the NFL, which is where the real power is."
Good recovery. But count on that veep question — and Rubio's dismissals — to persist, as he remains at the top of most lists of vice presidential prospects.
He's charismatic, beloved by the base, from a key battleground state and Hispanic in an election where Romney desperately needs to improve his standing among Latinos.
A Florida poll by the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling this week found Rubio, 40, could actually hurt Romney in Florida, rather than help. So we revved up our Marco Rubio Veep-O-Meter to assess his standing.
He remains a top contender.