WASHINGTON — Up-and-coming Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of running as a vice-presidential candidate in 2012, scotching widespread speculation he will appear on the ticket.

Despite being near the top of any list of potential running mates for the eventual Republican nominee, 40-year-old Rubio said he was happy being a senator for Florida.

"I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee," he told an audience in Washington. If someone were to ask him, Rubio said, "the answer is going to be no."

Rubio's supporters say he would invigorate any Republican ticket and give the party a huge boost in the key battleground state of Florida.

The son of exiles from Fidel Castro's Cuba burst onto the national political scene in 2009 as a favorite of conservative Tea Party voters by advocating small government and limited taxes.

In 2010 he beat the once wildly popular Florida governor Charlie Crist in the race to become a Florida senator.

Rubio has also been tipped as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore