This morning, I reported that Mitt Romney had not asked Marco Rubio to take the first steps in the vice presidential vetting process. As my report said, “He has not been asked to complete any questionnaires or been asked to turn over any financial documents typically required of potential vice presidential candidates.”
This afternoon the Washington Post matched that reporting. And in a taped interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Romney brushed off questions about whether Rubio was being vetted.
“I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on,” Romney told Hannity. “And I’m not going to comment on the process, of course. But I can tell you this. Only Beth Myers and I know who’s being vetted.”
A few hours later, however, Romney called in reporters traveling with him to give an entirely different response.
“Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process,” Romney told reporters, adding reports that said Rubio was not being vetted were “entirely false.”
“There was a story that originated today, apparently at ABC, based on reports of supposedly outside, unnamed advisers of mine,” Romney said. “I can’t imagine who such people are but I can tell you this. They know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process. There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not, and that’s Beth Myers and myself.”
So, what happened?
First, my sources stand by what they told me: Before today, Rubio had not been asked by the Romney campaign to turn over any documents related to the vice presidential search and he had not been asked to fill out any questionnaires.
But a top Romney campaign official emphatically told me that Rubio was, in fact, asked for vetting materials before today.
“Your source is lying to you,” the Romney official said.
Now, Rubio is the only candidate that the Romney campaign has definitively said is being vetted.
I am told by several Republican sources that Romney came under intense pressure today from top Republicans who argued it was crazy to take Rubio out of consideration so early. Some argued for Rubio’s appeal as the party’s most effective and charismatic conservative voice. Some argued it is dumb politics to not consider the party’s top Hispanic conservative.
But senior officials of the Romney campaign said emphatically that they were not under pressure from conservatives and that Romney never changed his mind. They insisted that Rubio was always under consideration.