Gingrich, Romney and Santorum candidates drooled all over the stage at Thursday’s Florida debate as they sang the praises of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and indicated that he was near the top of their list for a vice president.
Asked by an audience member which Hispanic leaders the candidates saw in their cabinets, they jumped at the opportunity.
“Well I mean I hate to throw one to Florida, but obviously your Senator Marco Rubio is a pretty impressive guy,” said former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, to massive applause.
Newt Gingrich was more direct.
“When you say cabinet, I think for example of Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico, [Florida Rep.] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,” Gingrich said. “I actually thought of Marco Rubio for being in a slightly more dignified and central roll than being in the cabinet, but that’s another conversation.”
Romney managed to drop eight names in his answer: Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Gov. Susana Martinez, Ros-Lehtinen, former Senator Mel Martinez, Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, and his brother, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz Balart, Carlos Guiterrez, former Secretary of Commerce, and Rubio, who he called “a terrific Hispanic American.”
Mel Martinez, it should be noted, co-sponsored the DREAM Act.
“These members can form membership in our cabinet, I believe, and potentially, as the Speaker indicates, some other positions as well,” Romney concluded.
Ron Paul, in his classic style, declined to sing anyone’s praises and said that what matters was the issues, not the person.
“I don’t have one particular name that I’m going bring up, but my litmus test would be to individuals, Hispanic or otherwise, to understand monetary policy and understand the system,” said Paul. “But also the Hispanic community is especially attuned to the foreign policy of nonintervention, and they are more opposed to war than other communities, so I would think there’s plenty in the Hispanic community could give me good advice and an understanding of why a nonintervention foreign policy is very attractive to the Hispanic people.”