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Rubio leaves the door open to VP role

Florida Senator Marco Rubio downplayed his higher office aspirations in a TV interview aired Sunday, refusing to discuss his vice presidential prospects and saying he does not think about becoming president some day.

But the statements by Rubio, a first-term Republican with a burgeoning national profile, were softer than ones he made last week, when he told the National Journal that he would say no if presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked him to be his running mate.

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“Let me just say this about the vice presidential process,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Up to now it’s all been theoretical. We have a nominee now, and our nominee, Mitt Romney, the leader of the Republican Party, has a vice presidential process in place. And I think from this point moving forward, I think it’d be wise for all Republicans to kind of respect that process, myself included, and say moving forward, we’re going to let his process play itself out.”

Rubio continued to deflect speculation elsewhere, saying former Florida Governor Jeb Bush would “be a fantastic vice president,” after suggesting in the National Journal interview that Romney should consider Ohio Senator Rob Portman. But Rubio did not repeat his position that he does not want to be vice president.

“The last thing [Romney] needs are those of us in the peanut gallery to be saying what we would or would not do,” he said Sunday.

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is considered a potential bridge between Romney and Hispanic voters, with whom President Obama enjoys a 40-point lead, according to a Pew Research Center poll released last week.

He has proposed a Republican counter to the DREAM Act, which would facilitate citizenship for illegal immigrant youths who enroll in college or enlist in the military. Rubio’s plan would let illegal immigrants in college and the military stay in the US but would not offer them citizenship.

Romney, who has spoken strongly against illegal immigration throughout the campaign, has neither endorsed nor rejected Rubio’s DREAM Act alternative, saying only that he will “study and consider” the proposal.

Callum Borchers can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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