HOLLAND, MI - Marco Rubio is still on the list for Vice President.
In a hastily arranged news conference outside of Captain Sundaes, a local ice cream shop in Western Michigan, Mitt Romney announced the Florida senator is being "thoroughly vetted" for the job, calling an earlier report Rubio was out "entirely false."
"There was a story that originated today - apparently at ABC - based on reports of supposedly outside, unnamed advisors of mine," Romney told a group of reporters at an unplanned stop. "They know nothing about the Vice President 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," he continued.
Romney took no questions following his statement.
Myers, a long-time trusted advisor and campaign manager during his presidential run in 2008, was picked by Romney to head the selection process in April shortly after he clinched the nomination. At that time, she promised to make the vetting process the most thorough ever.
Rubio has long been under speculation as a short-list candidate for Vice President. Young, charismatic and Cuban, he has quickly risen within the ranks of the Republican Party. Many view his moderate stance on immigration as a potential bridge to the Latino community - a group Romney desperately needs to win over in order to succeed in November.
Hard-line stances on immigration by prominent conservatives have driven many Hispanics to the Democratic Party over the years. Currently, President Obama is leading Romney among Hispanic voters by a 2-1 margin. And the report Tuesday could have angered or driven more Hispanics away.
Romney's statement was the second instance when the campaign hastily arranged a statement for the press on his current 5-day bus tour. The President's change of policy relating to young illegal immigrants dominated headlines on the first day, forcing Romney to address reporters following an event in Milford, NH.
The supposed leak to ABC News is uncharacteristic of a usually tight-lipped, fiercely loyal, and disciplined campaign. Campaign manager Matt Rhoades is known for his intolerance of non-public information finding its way into reporter's hands.