1:55 pm Jun. 19, 2012
Nydia Velazquez, the former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, doesn't think Mitt Romney's campaign really wants Marco Rubio, and doesn't think it would matter much to Latino voters even if they did.
"I think at this point the Mitt Romney team do not want to have another rerun regarding Sarah Palin, and getting someone who has not been vetted," Velazquez told me on Sunday morning.
That was before today's report that the Romney team isn't actively vetting Rubio, a leak from "knowledgeable Republican sources" that's been criticized by some in Rubio's inner circle, since it comes on the same day the Florida senator is publishing his book.
Velazquez specifically cited the questions that have been raised about the veracity of Rubio's family narrative, and the timing of his parents' departure from Cuba. (Those kinds of questions aren't unique to Rubio.)
"There are issues with his story as it was related by him when he was running for the Senate," Velazquez said. "And so people questioned his truthfulness."
Rubio has long been considered a front-runner for the nomination, in part for his presumed appeal to Latino voters. (As part of his book tour, Rubio tried to mend fences with Univision today, after a protracted fight with the influential network over a 2011 story about a decades-old drug bust of Rubio's brother-in-law.)
"The fact that you are Hispanic by itself is not going to translate into political support in the Latino community, especially given the fact that he is a conservative Tea Party member coming from a community that is shrinking," Velazquez said. "The most important Latino voting bloc in Florida these days is not the Cuban vote, it's the Puerto Rican vote."
Velazquez, who was the first Puerto Rican native elected to Congress, told me that she plans to campaign for Barack Obama in Puerto Rican enclaves of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, as soon as she's done contending with a primary challenge.