By Cameron Joseph - 04/22/12 01:41 PM EDT
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) didn't fully close the door on accepting the vice presidential slot if Mitt Romney asked him.
Rubio, who has repeatedly denied any interest in the slot, said that he wanted to "respect the process" Romney has put in place to make a selection and would no longer address it.
When host Candy Crowley said Rubio must know that will trigger speculation that he's open to accepting the slot after all, Rubio disagreed but didn't push hard against her comments.
"No, I think it's fair. I think the fairness in it is he has a real process in place... the last thing he needs is those of us in the peanut gallery to be saying what we would or would not do," he said.
"What I would characterize it is I'm not going to discuss it anymore because now there's a real process in place... he has a process and we should respect that process," he said with a smile.
Rubio also discussed the broad outline of a "Republican DREAM Act" he's developing that would allow some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as youth to gain permanent residency status if they graduate college or join the military. The plan differs from the current proposal because it doesn't put the immigrants on an automatic path to citizenship, but conservatives have blasted it because it would allow immigrants to stay in the country as long as they want, giving them the time to gain citizenship.
Rubio struggled to articulate why the two were fundamentally different.
"All this does is reward a non-immigrant visa to these kids who've found themselves in this very unfortunate circumstance," Rubio said when asked to differentiate the two plans, arguing that he would create a "non-citizenship pathway."
Mitt Romney came out hard against the current DREAM Act during the GOP primary but recently suggested at a private fundraiser that he might be on board with a "Republican DREAM Act."
Rubio said Romney had been good at talking not just about what he opposed in immigration but also what he was for, and suggested that was something the rest of the GOP needed to get better about.
"What I've suggested is the Republican Party has to become the pro-legal immigration party. We have to make very clear that we support legal immigration," he said. "It does matter how you talk about the issue. It starts by recognizing that the vast majority of people who are here illegally didn't come here to steal from the American government. They are here in search of opportunity, they are doing what most people would do if their children were hungry and their family was suffering."