In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida seemed to change his tune about whether or not he would accept the number-two slot on the G.O.P. presidential ticket were it to be offered him.

Rubio used to say he wasn’t interested, but today he simply said he wouldn’t discuss the possibility. Via TPM:

“Up to now, it’s all been theoretical,” Rubio explained, but now the party has a nominee who has begun the process of finding a running mate. “Moving forward, we’re gonna let his process play itself out,” Rubio said.

Now, this will likely provoke another round of scoffing from liberal commentators about how unlikely Rubio is to help Romney win Latino votes. And I agree. But that wouldn’t be the point of a Rubio veep pick.

When Republicans choose people of color or members of minority groups for positions of power within their nearly nativist party, it’s rarely because they expect that person to bring a flood of votes from the constituency group their identity symbolizes. It’s to assuage the fears of swing voters, who generally don’t like to vote for people who seem to be extreme. So, the pick of a Latino veep would signal to white suburbanites that, despite his embrace of the G.O.P.’s anti-immigrant policies, Mitt Romney is not really an anti-immigrant kind of a guy. See? He even has a Latino running mate. And with Florida being a state whose inclinations can hang by a chad, a Floridian might make a wise pick indeed.

CNN’s video of the Rubio interview is here.

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