Media reports continue to push S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley as a potential candidate for vice president, despite her multiple statements over the past year declining interest in the post.
The pot was stirred again on Thursday, however, when Ann Romney disclosed that her husband’s vice presidential candidate may be a woman.
In a joint interview with former Gov. Mitt Romney, Ann Romney told CBS: “We’ve been looking at that (a female VP candidate), and I love that option as well.”
But Mitt Romney is still considering “a lot of people,” she added.
Could one of those be Gov. Haley? In October 2011, she said: “I'm absolutely not going to take or accept any vice presidency."
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said: "Governor Haley has made it very clear that, while she's a huge supporter of Governor Romney and will do whatever she can to help him win the White House, she is not interested in being vice president. So, no, her name has not been submitted for the process nor will it be."
Despite denials, political experts are not so sure Haley would turn down the opportunity.
And leaders of the conservative women’s movement in S.C. applaud Romney’s decision to consider a woman.
“Women are 52 percent of the voting populace, so it’s possible that he’d be considering, if not vetting, a woman for that position,” said Karen Floyd, former chairwoman of the S.C. GOP and publisher of Palladian View.
“There are tremendous prospects across the country."
Floyd added that she is not sure if Haley would dismiss the idea of vice presidency if given the opportunity.
“[Haley] has consistently rebuked the possibility, but if you’re called to that position it’s hard to say ‘No,’” Floyd said. “My point is that it’s a serious request. I think people would take it into serious consideration.”
Floyd recently met with New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and said she thinks Ayotte is the most likely woman to be vetted as Romney’s vice president.
“[Ayotte] is ranked anywhere between fourth and seventh on the vetting scale,” she said. “She’s formidable. She’s a neat woman and it’s my understanding she hasn’t rebuked the [vice presidency] idea.”
Jeri Cabot, dean of students and political science professor at College of Charleston, said Haley is an unlikely candidate, and that Ann Romney’s comments are a diversion.
“I think it is a momentary diversion," she said. “Something to stir the pot ... just gives media folks something to talk about.”
Cabot said that Larry Sabato, political analyst and politics professor at the University of Virginia, marked Haley off the potential vice president list early on.
“It’d be too much like (former Alaska Gov. Sarah) Palin, part two,” she said. “She’s running against her own party, has too much baggage.”
Bob Oldendick, political science professor at the University of South Carolina, said that at this point in the race, Ann Romney’s comments are of little weight.
“Give where are we on the campaign, they’re going to put these statements out there at very low cost to try to let people know [women] are being considered,” he said.
But Oldendick said he does not think the vice presidential candidate will be a woman.
“Oh, I think if we make a list of however many they have, I think that (Florida Sen. Marco) Rubio is still on that list,” he said of the potential candidates for the position. “I’ve said for the past couple of weeks that Rob Portman [R-Ohio] will be the nominee.”