By Judy Kurtz - 06/06/12 10:46 PM EDT
If Mitt Romney taps Sen. Marco Rubio to be his running mate, he might need some help determining which states go red and which go blue on election night.
The Florida Republican and center of the veepstakes buzz revealed to ITK on Tuesday that he’s one of the roughly 8 percent of men who have color vision deficiency, or what’s commonly referred to as colorblindness.
Rubio didn’t bite at that one, other than saying, “It depends on who’s judging. Some of the stuff on the runways in New York is hideous, and yet it’s supposed to be high fashion.”
Pressed on his own fashion sense, Rubio explained that it’s hard for him to evaluate the latest styles, adding, “I’m colorblind.”
Prevent Blindness America, an eye health and safety organization, says colorblindness can range from “not being able to tell certain colors apart to not being able to identify any color.”
While it’s unclear how mild or severe Rubio’s eye issues might be, even a staffer close to the lawmaker seemed surprised by the news. When initially asked if Rubio was serious about being colorblind or just offering up a playful excuse for any unfortunate fashion choices, the aide told us Rubio was likely telling a joke. The staffer later confirmed that his boss is, indeed, colorblind.
Rubio, 41, wouldn’t be the only politician to see the world through different-colored glasses.
The Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders and Birth Defects writes that during the 1996 presidential debates, both then-President Bill Clinton and -Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) needed special lights to know when they were appearing on camera: “Both [Clinton and Dole] have inherited red/green color vision confusion and would have had difficulty with signals based on individual colored lights, so a system using three lights was used.”
Rubio has his own system for dealing with being colorblind — Jeanette, his spouse of 15 years. The lawmaker admits she’s the secret to keeping his outfits coordinated, saying, “I depend on my wife to match things.”
He pointed to his bright red neckwear before quipping, “Like this blue tie I have on, for example,” before walking away with a laugh.