Rep. Allen West leaves door open to 2012 vice presidential slot

Newt Gingrich: West 1 of 4 potential VP candidates

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - After resigning his congressional seat in 1998, Newt Gingrich didn't think he'd ever be this close to making a run for president.

And if he does run, he told NewsChannel 's Evan Axelbank at an annual Palm Beach County GOP fundraiser, that Florida's elected officials will get lots of consideration as Vice Presidential picks. He included brand new congressman, Allen West.

"Florida has two, and maybe three potential vice presidential candidates right now. Maybe four if you count Jeb Bush," said Gingrich.

Gingrich is spending a fair amount of time in coveted Florida. Aides say this is his sixth recent visit. If he runs, he'd consider picking a Floridian to be his running mate and lumped Congressman Allen West in with statewide electees like Governor Scott and Senator Rubio.

"Allen West would certainly be someone you'd look at," said Gingrich.

West seemed surprised at Gingrich's comments.

"He said that?" asked West.

Florida has never had a candidate on a national ticket, and GOP Representative Tom Rooney says West already has a high-profile for someone who has only been in office a few weeks.

"When we walk around Capitol Hill, all the national reporters know his name, they don't know mine," said Rooney.

Rooney says it would make sense for a Republican contender to pick someone like Representative West or another young GOP star, Senator Rubio.

"I think that would really help him with the electoral college votes that, we're getting two more after redistricting, so Florida's a big state," said Rooney.

Although West has said he doesn't want to run for president in 2012, he left the door open for a VP slot.

"I have to pray about it and I have to clear it with my wife and two daughters," said West. "I never thought that seven years ago when I retired here I'd be a United States Congressman, and that I'd be standing in front of your news camera. So we don't know what the future holds, but I'm always willing to serve my country."

Democrats say that West might have appeal among hardcore Republicans, but that he is a turn-off to anyone in the center.

Gingrich says he'll make his decision on a presidential run in the next few weeks.
 

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