These days one of the favorite games among political junkies is prognosticating about who will be Romney’s vice-presidential running mate. An important criterion for selection, the “incredibly boring white guy” factor, previously has been examined by this writer and others.
Now, there seems to be a consensus among GOP political operatives as to who will share the bumper sticker with Romney within that group of potential VP nominees who exemplify that distinguishing “boring” characteristic.
That person is Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
Sensing an opinion wave for Portman within the last month, I asked a prominent GOP super PAC insider (name withheld by request) why Portman is the “chosen one” and this was the email response I received:
He could bring Ohio!!! And he is very experienced and he won’t spend $100,000 on clothes in two months! The goal this cycle is “safe, not sorry. But win Ohio!”
Packed within that email are several discussion points alluding to the GOP’s 2008 VP candidate (which are sure to be elaborated upon in the comment section of this post).
Notwithstanding a negative or positive opinion of the GOP’s 2008 VP candidate, Sarah Palin has significantly impacted the 2012 selection process, and it now looks like Senator Rob Portman will be the ultimate beneficiary.
Another veteran insider of past GOP presidential campaigns responded to my email which posed the question “Why Portman?” with this list of reasons:
Would actually be a great VP.
Not an ideologue.
Understands jobs and global economy as U.S. Trade Representative not OMB.
“Not OMB” is worth discussing, for this is a touchy Portman resume item that Team Obama is sure to exploit as a negative talking point if Portman is officially nominated.
From May 2006 until June 2007, Rob Portman served as President George W. Bush’s director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
When asked about the potential for President Obama and the Democrats to “denigrate” his OMB service, Portman was ready with an answer, as recently reported in a comprehensive piece in Real Clear Politics (RCP) titled “Does Portman Have the Edge in VP Sweepstakes?”
He told the Cincinnati Enquirer last month: “I was there for just over a year and I put out one budget … [which] was actually a balanced budget. And not even over 10 years but over five years and I’m proud of that.” He conceded, “Frankly it was a battle within the White House to get the White House and everybody on board with that … but imagine that, a balanced budget.”
So Rob Portman’s defense of his one year as OMB director includes a small salvo aimed at the Bush White House for rejecting his “pathway to balancing the budget in five years.” Now, by comparison, President Obama’s budget deficits are projected to be $977 billion in 2013, making President Bush’s $161 billion deficit in 2007 look like chump change.
This means Portman has plenty of cover when the Obama campaign unleashes their wild attack dogs in the last two months of the general election; there is no doubt that Portman will successfully defend himself and his record at OMB.
Portman’s first post in President Bush’s second term was as the United States Trade Representative. He worked in that position for one year before President Bush promoted him to OMB director in mid-2006.
To further understand the depth of experience that Senator Portman would bring to the Romney ticket, it is important to note that before serving two years in the Bush administration, Portman had a distinguished congressional career which spanned 12 years, from 1993 until May 2005.
Representing Ohio’s 2nd congressional district, Portman built a reputation for bi-partisanship, writing numerous pieces of legislation that were signed into law by President Clinton; but you can count on this part of his career to be completely ignored by Team Obama.
Instead, get ready to read how Portman was “Bush’s guy” who helped drive the economy into a ditch. You can almost hear Obama asking voters, “And this is the guy you want to let back into the White House?”