Marco Rubio became a national sensation after powering past a well-funded sitting governor to win Florida's U.S. Senate race. A big driver behind his victory was support from the Tea Party - support that apparently endures.
The Tea Party express is out with a new nationwide survey showing that, by a 66 percent margin, its members want Rubio to be Mitt Romney's running mate.
Mitt Romney's a relative moderate who's had difficulty connecting with conservatives, and Rubio could be just what he needs to fire up those voters.
Insiders say Rubio's been kicked off Romney's shortlist because of his newness on the national political scene and controversy over his time in Rallahassee.
While speaker of the Florida House, Rubio used a GOP credit card to charge personal expenses - a mistake he says he corrected.
The Tea Party poll may lead the Romney campaign to take a second look at Rubio, but political consultant Gary Yordon says his ultimate appeal lies in the fact he's a Hispanic republican.
"I don't think anything in Marco Rubio's past, though, knocks him out of the box in that regard. No, I think he's incredibly strong, and I think if the Romney campaign says, 'we need that Hispanic vote, that's going to be the determinant' - and it may well be - 'then he's got to be our guy'."
Romney has a couple of windows to make his V.P. pick - either before the weekend is out, or after the Olympic games in August. He doesn't want anything to overshadow an announcement the campaign will want the entire country to be focused on.
Also bolstering Senator Rubio's appeal as a potential running mate is the fact he represents Florida, the nation's biggest battleground state. Most GOP strategists say Romney needs to win the sunshine state to have any hope of winning the White House.
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