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Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations May 31, 2012 in New York.
HOLLAND, Mich. -- Mitt Romney on Tuesday called reports that his campaign was not vetting conservative rising star Marco Rubio for the vice presidential nomination "entirely false," and said his campaign is indeed vetting the Florida senator.
"Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process," Romney told reporters in a hastily-organized statement to the media before a stop at an ice cream shop.
While on the campaign trail in Michigan, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney hinted that his team may be considering Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as a running mate. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
The Romney campaign has jealously guarded information about its vice presidential selection process, with Romney repeating a familiar refrain whenever questions about the number two spot on the ticket are asked: I've got nothing for ya.
Today's statement was the first time Romney or his campaign have officially confirmed that his campaign was vetting anyone.
Romney’s statement was a response to an ABC News report this morning that said “knowledgeable Republican sources" said Rubio was not being vetted. The ABC sources said Rubio was not being vetted and had not been asked to turn over financial disclosure documents or complete any questionnaire – steps traditionally part of the vetting process.
The report was a source of concern for the Romney campaign, as conservatives expressed shock at the idea that Rubio may not have been on Romney's short list at all, and prompting questions to the junior senator, to which he declined to comment.
This is the second time Romney has publicly defended Rubio. In October, he said a Washington Post story about Rubio's family was a "smear."
Today, Romney pushed back hard at the use of anonymous, outside sources to report on the VP selection process.
"There was a story that originated today, apparently at ABC, based on reports of supposedly outside, unnamed advisors of mine,” Romney said. “I can't imagine who such people are but I can tell you this: They know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process. There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not, and that's Beth Myers and myself."
Referring to his former chief of staff, who is now heading his VP search, he said, "I know Beth well. She doesn't talk to anybody."