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Trump eyes Sen. Marco Rubio as a potential VP pick

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is moving up the list of former President Donald Trump’s potential vice presidential picks, according to six people familiar with the presumptive Republican nominee’s search for a 2024 running mate.

Rubio is hardly alone in the field; the cast of hopefuls for the job is large enough to fill an entire season of “The Apprentice.” Trump estimated the number at about 15 in a March 13 interview with Newsmax, and one of the sources said Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., are among those in the mix.

“The list is long, and it’s extremely early in any kind of process,” one Trump adviser said. “No one has been directly reached out to yet, and I do not expect that for some time.”

But Trump’s apparent seriousness about Rubio, a 52-year-old, third-term senator, hints at the former president’s priorities and presents an intriguing set of potential complications.

Rubio is young and telegenic, he’s spent more time in federal office than Vice President Kamala Harris, and, at a time when Trump is bullish on his chances of winning over Latino voters, he would be the first non-white person ever to make a Republican presidential ticket.

In other words, the Miami-born son of working-class Cuban immigrants looks good on paper and on television — a powerful combination for Trump.

“It’s pretty clear from Trump’s orbit that Rubio is in play,” said a veteran Florida GOP operative. “It makes sense because he checks almost every box if they can get past both being from Florida.”

The Constitution prohibits electors from voting for a president and vice president from their own state.

“The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves,” Article II, Section I, Clause 3 reads.

But that didn’t stop Dick Cheney, a longtime Texan, from changing his residence to Wyoming in 2000 so that he could run with Texan George W. Bush.

It’s not clear whether Rubio would be interested in moving in order to be vice president, and he has raised the Constitution as a possible impediment — without fully ruling out the No. 2 slot — before.

“We’re both from the same state, so that’s probably not going to work that way,” Rubio said when he was asked about joining a Trump ticket on Fox News in January.

Spokespeople for Rubio and Trump both declined to comment for this story.

Trump has declined to name candidates on his list, but he has given some insight into his thinking.

“It’s very important you pick the right person in case something happens,” he told WABC radio in New York Tuesday. “You want to have somebody that can step into that role and be great.”

He added that he doesn’t think his choice will have much bearing on the outcome of his rematch with President Joe Biden.

“In terms of an election, historically, it doesn’t help at all,” he said. “I guess it could hurt if you pick somebody that was a disaster.”

The Trump team plans to test out top contenders on the campaign trail — auditions of a sort — at rallies and events in the coming months. They will also assess a necessary skill that Rubio has shown: the ability to raise money. He collected nearly $50 million for his 2016 presidential run.

There’s a scenario being discussed in Florida political circles in which Rubio could resign his Senate seat in order to move to another state and join the ticket. That would give a big plum to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s vanquished rival from this year’s primary, in the form of a Senate appointment to hand out.

“The more interesting part is what it means for Rubio’s Senate seat and who DeSantis would appoint,” the veteran Florida GOP operative said.

Eight years ago, Trump and Rubio exchanged heated barbs — including some thinly veiled shots at each other’s manhood — when they competed for the 2016 GOP nomination. Trump nicknamed Rubio “Little Marco” during that campaign, and Rubio fired back that Trump had “small hands.”

But their relationship improved as Rubio backed Trump’s White House agenda and endorsed the former president right before January’s Iowa caucuses this year.

Dasha Burns reported from Palm Beach, Florida; Matt Dixon reported from Tallahassee, Florida; and Jonathan Allen reported from Washington, D.C.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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