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Do All Signs Point to Portman?

A campaign-heavy schedule for the senator, a shift in his communications strategy, a heavily edited Wikipedia page...

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

August 8, 2012 - 3:51 pm
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For both pundits and the presumptive Republican nominee, the shortlist for the vice presidential nomination is getting even shorter.

And if there’s a unifying thread for the crystal-ball gazers, it’s throwing a pretty strong chance in the direction of Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was stumping in Iowa today, the freshman Republican senator took the Romney bus out for a spin at six campaign events in Colorado.

It could be no small coincidence that Portman was picked as the campaign point man to counter the Colorado campaign visit by President Obama today, which hit Denver, Grand Junction and Pueblo.

Portman made stops in Greeley, Johnson’s Corner, Adams County, Jefferson County, Denver, and Pueblo County.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) took the western side of the state with an event for Romney in Grand Junction.

Portman, the former Office of Budget and Management director and U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush, began the week rallying voters in his home state. On Tuesday, he opened a Romney Victory Office in Ontario, Ohio, before sitting down at a roundtable with farmers affected by the drought in Shelby, Ohio.

There’s also been a subtle shift in the releases flowing from Portman’s communications team to reporters. The senator routinely holds conference calls with Ohio reporters and, like any other member of Congress, sends out updates on his legislation and reaction to events such as the monthly Labor Department statistics.

There’s been more of a national campaign flavor to these communiques. A week ago, for instance, Portman’s communications director sent out a memo to reporters covering Obama’s trip to Mansfield, Ohio, with a distinct election angle. Pointing out the administration’s about-face on Mansfield Lahm Airport’s 179th Airlift Wing, which was on the president’s shutdown list, the Portman camp noted previous calls by the senator that went unanswered “but when shamed by one reporter during an election campaign, they suddenly promise swift action despite months of inaction.”

Portman has introduced a handful of bills since May, in this order: one requiring the Treasury to issue Pro Football Hall of Fame coins, one to place FDR’s D-Day prayer at the World War II Memorial, the Synthetic Drug Control and Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention acts of 2012, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2012, one to give golfer Jack Nicklaus a gold medal, the Global Conservation Act of 2012, the End Government Shutdowns Act, and a bill introduced last week to “affirm the authority of the president to require independent regulatory agencies to comply with regulatory analysis requirements applicable to executive agencies.”

The Global Conservation Act has Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) as co-sponsors. Portman, Snowe, Udall and Whitehouse are co-chairs of the Senate International Conservation Caucus.

The bill seeks to “better manage the federal government’s existing conservation programs and making them more cost effective and efficient” and “strengthen the capacity of the United States to lead the international community in reversing renewable natural resource degradation trends.”

“Preserving our nation’s wildlife and scenic treasures spurs job creation and bolsters our economy as people engage in activities such as tourism, sport hunting and recreational fishing,” Portman said at the end of June. “This bill will establish a process for identifying innovative approaches to further enhance the economic benefits of conservation both at home and abroad.”

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