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Why Rubio Wasn't the Match for Romney Why Rubio Wasn't the Match for Romney

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Why Rubio Wasn't the Match for Romney

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The Republican candidate Marco Rubio during the debate between the three candidates running for U.S. Senate from Florida at Nova University in Davie, Fla. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010.  (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

ABC News is reporting that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is not being vetted by Mitt Romney's team, making it unlikely he'll be tapped as a running mate. 

In retrospect, the biggest clue that Mitt Romney wouldn't be looking to Rubio took place Sunday, when the Republican presidential nominee awkwardly batted away questions about Obama's executive order on CBS' "Face the Nation."  It was clear that immigration was the last thing Romney wanted to talk about. Selecting Rubio would only underscore the divide in the Republican party between immigration reformers and restrictionists. 

A Bloomberg poll released today highlighted how treacherous immigration is for Republicans, politically speaking.  64 percent of likely voters said they supported Obama's immigration policy, including 66 percent of independents.  But Republicans are split down the middle, with 56 percent opposing it. Romney's been trying to avoid ticking off his base while moderating his position for the general election, but his sharp rhetoric on the subject during the primaries is making it difficult.  And he wants desperately to focus relentlessly on the economy, viewing immigration as an unwanted distraction.

At the same time, the conventional wisdom that Romney needs to cut his large deficit with Latino voters to prevail over Obama may also be missing the mark.  On his bus tour this week, Romney spent time in the white, working-class Rust Belt, hitting small towns without much of a Hispanic presence.  It's becoming as important for Romney to win over white voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin as it is to appeal to Hispanics in Florida, Nevada and Colorado.  As Ron Brownstein noted last week, Romney could win the election even if he loses the vast majority of minorities, thanks to Obama's Mondale-like standing among white voters. 

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