Do All Signs Point to Portman?

Portman's bill to end the threat of government shutdowns in the event of a budget impasse paints a stark contrast with Congress of the 1990s, where Newt Gingrich's House welcomed public budget face-offs with looming shutdown threats.

But it also paints a picture of a safe -- even conflict-averse -- running mate for Romney, should he decided on the senator.

Byron York wrote today that Portman fits with Romney's penchant for caution, unflashy style, desire for experience, and belief that the veep shouldn't headline the ticket. "Portman has experience as a representative, a senator, and a top official in the executive branch; he is an entirely plausible president should something happen to a President Romney," York said.

Over at NBC News, Chuck Todd and Co. officially named the final three as Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): "Portman would be the insider, someone who knows the ways of Washington and who could help govern starting on Day 1."

At Investor's Business Daily, David Hogberg noted that the Wikipedia tea leaves read in Portman's favor. Checking the pages of the top VP contenders, the only entry that has recently undergone substantial editing is the Ohio senator's.

"Yesterday, when his page was copied into a Word file, it had 15 pages, 3,787 words, and 21,499 characters. As of this writing, it has 13 pages, 3,210 words, and 18,022 characters," Hogberg wrote. "…By the looks of it, two main portions have been removed from the page, a list of bills that Portman has sponsored and the roles he played in negotiating trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Ecuador."

That includes removal of the not-super-presidential football coin and Jack Nicklaus bills.

In just a few hours today, Portman's InTrade chances went from nearly 33 percent to 38 percent. Pawlenty is running at 15 percent as of this writing.

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For his part, Portman has demurred as much as the next short-lister on his VP odds.

"I've spent a lot of time around the state, I'm sharing the campaign for Gov. Romney here," Portman said Tuesday in Ohio, as reported by Yahoo News. "I'm going to work my heart out for him no matter what. And I really believe that is what it comes down to."

Pawlenty is also playing every bit the loyalist, doing events in New Hampshire this weekend for Romney, who is planning a weekend bus tour.

Pawlenty was asked at today's opening of a campaign office in Jackson, Mich., if he would return there when he was vice president.

“We’ll know soon enough,” Pawlenty quipped.

But when elaborating on the rising conservative stars of the future, Portman made the tail end of Pawlenty's long list.

“You’ve got this tremendous new governor in Nevada Brian Sandoval,” Pawlenty said. “If you haven’t heard of him, you will. He’s terrific. Susanna Martinez in New Mexico, the first Hispanic Republican woman governor in the history of the country. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, tremendous reformer, outstanding governor and leader. Marco Rubio, the rising star and senator from Florida. Then you go up to South Carolina, you’ve got Nikki Haley the governor of South Carolina, Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rob Portman and Paul Ryan, the budget chairman. And many others. David Petreaus.”