WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Wednesday that he would say no to being vice president, even if GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney begged him to take the position.
A few minutes later, he made verbal slip: "Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as vice president -- I'm sorry, as a senator," Rubio said at an event hosted by National Journal. "If I do a good job as a senator, instead of a vice president, I'll have a chance to do all sorts of things."
Rubio quickly laughed and said he meant nothing by the remark, adding that he would rather be a U.S. senator and joking he would have more power as commissioner of the NFL.
The mix-up came a few minutes after Rubio made some of his clearest remarks yet -- despite his slip of the tongue -- on the vice president issue. The first-term senator has said repeatedly that he will not be vice president and does not expect to be asked. He's considered a good option for Romney based on Rubio's support from the Tea Party and his potential appeal to Latinos, who will likely be an important part of the upcoming election.
He reiterated on Thursday that he does not expect to be tapped for the position, but answered affirmatively when asked if he would say no.
"Yeah, I don't want to be the vice president right now, or maybe ever," Rubio said. "But you know, he's not going to ask. That doesn't work -- he's watching this interview, so he'll know."
If Romney told Rubio he and the Republican Party needed him as vice president to attract Latinos, he said he would still decline.
"I'll travel anywhere in the country and deliver that message as the junior senator from Florida," he said.
Rubio also gave further details on his Republican "Dream Act," which is proving his ability to appeal to Latinos interested in immigration reform, and has prompted additional speculation that he wants to be vice president.
The bill would provide non-immigrant visas to some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, allowing them to attend school or work. But it differs from a Democrat-pushed Dream Act in one crucial way, which opponents said would put those immigrants into an unfair situation: it does not provide legal status that could become a path to citizenship.
Rubio said he hopes the bill can be introduced this summer, but that the election could derail that effort, alluding to Democrats who he said want to use immigration as a wedge issue.
Rubio said that for him, the bill is not about attracting Latino voters to the Republican Party.
"I don't think one bill is going to change whatever that disadvantage may or may not be," he said.