Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 | 7:41 p.m.
Apparently Mitt Romney harbors no ill feelings toward Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval for endorsing his one-time rival Rick Perry, because when asked at tonight’s CNN debate which Hispanics he’d like in his Cabinet, Romney topped the list with none other than the leader of the Silver State.
“We’re blessed to have an enormous number of highly qualified Hispanic-Americans in the Republican Party and leadership right now,” Romney said, just before starting his list with “Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada.”
Romney was the third candidate to answer the question, after Rick Santorum — who named freshman Sen. Marco Rubio for a Florida splash, and Newt Gingrich — who tried to one-up Santorum’s Florida-favoritism by intimating that he might give Rubio a nod as vice president on his ticket.
Romney went on to mention Rubio, as well as Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers, all House representatives from Florida, and Carlos Gutierrez and Mel Martinez, former Cabinet members under George W. Bush, after naming Sandoval. Romney gave Martinez, who is also a former senator from Florida, a little extra home-state love, saying: “Martinez is back in the private sector. Who knows, he could be pulled back.”
But Romney didn’t otherwise distinguish a hierarchy among the Hispanic Republicans on his shortlist — and suggested any of them might get a bid not just for a Cabinet, but for VP as well.
“These individuals can (be eligible) for membership in our Cabinet, I believe,” Romney said. “And potentially ... other positions as well.”
When Perry dropped out of the race, Sandoval said he would not be endorsing anyone else in the primary season.
But if for a VP nod? Who knows — tomorrow is another day.