Tag Archives: Rob Portman

Battleground County: Hamilton County, Ohio

Note: This is a blog post from July 16 that never got published.  No clue why.  But when I went looking for Hamilton County info for the earlier Ohio poll I knew something was missing.  Well, here it is:

We’ve had this county show up in a few posts — both in the Ohio battleground Map post as well as in the voter registration post.  The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look at this county that may be the home of Romney’s Vice President, but may also be the county that decides our next President:

Hamilton County is in play. After going Democratic in 2008 for the first time in a presidential race since 1964, Democrats hope to build on Barack Obama’s historic win here while Republicans hope to prove it was an anomaly. Obama visits today [Monday] for the first time in 10 months, but it certainly won’t be the last time he’ll be here before Election Day on Nov. 6, said county Democratic Chairman Tim Burke.

“I think everybody concedes that Mitt Romney can’t win the White House without winning Ohio,” Burke said, “and he can’t win Ohio without winning Hamilton County.” Burke and county Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou don’t agree on a lot, but they agree Hamilton County will be critical this year. “We can push (the election) over the edge because we are a critical corner of the state,” Triantafilou said. “Electorally, at the end of the day (2008) wasn’t a close election. We feel like this one will be close.”

Swing county in a swing state

Ohio is one of the largest swing states, and in 2008 Hamilton County voted slightly more for Obama than the state as a whole at 53 percent vs. 51.5 percent. “We are the local representatives of the national brand,” said Triantafilou. “In 2008, I would argue, the brand was a little tarnished, and 2010 was the beginning of our comeback” with the elections of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.

Reservations for the Fall

Obama has made several trips to northern and central Ohio in recent months – that’s because the first priority in a campaign is always to shore up the areas of strongest support, said Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. Despite the increasingly Democratic leanings of Hamilton County, neighboring Butler, Clermont and Warren counties remain firmly Republican. “You always take care of your base,” Asher said. “We know northeast Ohio is going to be very Democratic. Turnout there is going to make all the difference in the world.” At the same time, Asher noted, in a close election every vote counts, and they count equally regardless of which part of the state they come from.

Until 2008, Republican presidential candidates could count on Hamilton County, although margins have shrunk dramatically since 1996, when losing candidate Bob Dole took 50.1 percent of the county vote. Now Hamilton is one of three counties nationwide that the national media is following as a bellwether of the election. The Romney campaign, which raised $3 million during a stop here last month, is conceding nothing. “Absolutely, Hamilton County is winnable,” said Christopher Maloney, Ohio campaign spokesman. “It has traditionally been a stronghold for Republicans … and we’re counting on it to put us over the top in November.”

How Hamilton County Has Voted

 2008 Obama McCain
Hamilton County 53.0 46.0
Ohio result 51.5 46.9
2004 Kerry Bush
Hamilton County 47.1 52.5
Ohio result 48.7 50.8
2000  Gore  Bush
Hamilton County 42.8 54.0
Ohio result 46.5 50.0
1996  Clinton Dole
Hamilton County 43.1 50.1
Ohio result 47.4 41.0

Romney Bus Barnstorming the Battlegrounds

I was going to wait until I had actual dates, time and locations to blog this but no harm, setting up the outline. Mitt Romney gained a lot of good press and voter good-will when he went on his “Every Town Counts” bus tour in June. Now he is reprising that formula with his Vice President nominee along with a fiend or two (namely Ohio’s Rob Portman) around the Battlegrounds. The major focus will be Ohio getting 3 full days attention (this Ohio’s important?).  National Journal sets the stage:

Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan will focus on Ohio next week, with a three-day bus tour through the crucial battleground state, the campaign announced. The tour, entitled the “Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class,” will take place Monday through Wednesday, with stops in six major cities. Ryan will kick off the tour with stops in Lima and Cincinnati on Monday and Tuesday. Romney will campaign on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo. It was unclear whether the two would campaign together at any point.

Other states expected to be hit are mention in this Wall Street Journal glass-half-empty profile of the renewed focus:

Mr. Romney will hit the campaign trail harder than he has since the party conventions began at the end of August, with public events in Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Ohio in the next week.

The campaign can expect to hammer home a new theme emerging out of the secret fundraising tape the media thought was the Zapruder film:

“The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class,” Mr. Romney said Wednesday in Atlanta. “I do. He does,” he said, referring to himself and Mr. Obama. “The question is who can help the poor and the middle class. I can. He can’t.” … The campaign dipped into its stockpile of money Wednesday for new ads that seek to fan concerns about Mr. Obama’s environmental policies, particularly in Virginia and Ohio, by featuring coal miners accusing him of attacking the industry.

How the Romney Campaign Sees Itself

Just after the Guy Benson report from inside from inside the Romney campaign, National Review’s Robert Costa reports on key findings during his talk with campaign insiders.  Plenty of great reporting and red-meat.  Read the whole thing:

The minute a reporter brings out a tape recorder, campaign operatives get nervous, especially when their candidate is having a bad week. When National Review Online contacted several Romney sources on Wednesday, the vast majority of staffers and confidants declined to talk on the record. Many advisers, however, did talk “on background,” which means they were candid (to a point), and shared the campaign’s thinking. Broadly speaking, the campaign is optimistic, as well as frustrated. They feel that they’re competitive, and that the pundits, both in the mainstream press and on the right, are overly harsh. Here is a synopsis of those conversations.

This is a team

Outside of the campaign, there has been a lot of grumbling about Stuart Stevens, Romney’s strategist. “The people who are complaining don’t understand his role — or they want his role,” says one Romney consultant.

It’s cordial

“Are there disagreements? Sure there are,” says a second adviser. “But this isn’t a campaign of big personalities.” Matt Rhoades, the campaign manager, is a low-key leader who despises “process” stories and spends much of his time working with Romney’s political team, as well as with his friends at the Republican National Committee. He never goes on television. Stevens avoids TV, too, and though he is not Rhoades’s best friend, they have a professional rapport.

[Note: it personally drives me bonkers senior Romney people aren’t on TV every day pushing back twice as hard against the media anti-Romney lie of the day.  I want them out there fighting for this job.  It’s the most important job in the world.  Isn’t that worth fighting for?]

Location, location, location.

According to Romney advisers, the criticism of the campaign isn’t coming from state party chairs or tea-party activists but from the usual Beltway suspects, and from media commentators who are looking for drama. “It’s noise,” a third adviser says. In fact, Romney advisers see the candidate’s unpopularity in Washington as a plus, most of the time.

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Republican Convention Speakers Announced

Previously we blogged the big guns Romney is bringing out for the convention but the roster is getting filled out with plenty of fresh faces for the GOP.  Jim Geraghty at National Review broke the news:

This morning, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced to Campaign Spot six more speakers for the party’s national convention in Tampa:

  • U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator from New Hampshire and former New Hampshire Attorney General.
  • Former Democratic National Convention Speaker Artur Davis, former Alabama congressman from the 7th District (2003-2011) who was the first member of Congress not from Illinois to endorse President Obama in 2008. Davis, then a Democrat, seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He recently announced he is joining the Republican Party and supporting Mitt Romney.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, 55th Governor of Louisiana, winning election in 2007 and winning reelection in all of the state’s 64 parishes in 2011; former U.S. Congressman; led the state’s response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf in 2010.
  • Congressman Connie Mack won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Florida on August 14th and was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2004.
  • Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and chairman of the Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions, commonly known as the Platform Committee.
  • U.S. Senator Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio who won election in 2010 by 18 points, winning 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and former Congressman from Ohio’s 2nd  district.  He is also a former U.S. Trade Representative and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“This exciting group of headliners includes two successful governors, two outstanding senators, the next senator from our convention state, and a former Co-Chairman of the 2008 Obama campaign,” Priebus said in a released statement. “The perspectives and ideas they bring to the convention stage will show all Americans that Romney and Ryan are the ticket to a better future. Former Congressman Davis especially will give voice to the frustration and disappointment felt among those who supported President Obama in 2008 and are now hungry for a new direction.”

11 Vice President Quick Hits — Who’s Missing?

More than a few great reads on the current state of the Veepstakes:

  1. Byron York breaks down the likely Romney thought process in the VP decision and ends up with Rob Portman (or maybe Pawlenty)
  2. Bill Kristol and Stephen Hayes argue if Romney is forced to defend the “Romney-Ryan” plan then might as well make it the “Romney-Ryan ticket”
  3. Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides excellent info on Ryan as VP resting on whether Romney believes his campaign needs a course correction
  4. The Wall Street Journal editorial argues Americans are hungry for leadership willing to take on the hard issues and Ryan is that leader
  5. Rick Lowry argues Romney should not to fear the scare tactics against Ryan’s reforms
  6. New York Magazine’s Brett Smiley reports a comment from Rob Portman at a fundraiser: ‘I’ll probably stay in the Senate
  7. David Graham in The Atlantic takes a look at the “risks of picking Rob Portman
  8. Buzzfeed (May 8): 15 interesting things about Rob Portman
  9. National Review’s Robert Costa reports Rob Portman’s Saturday will be spent at Pelotonia, a bike tour he once attended with his pal, top Romney campaign strategist Stuart Stevens
  10. PJ Media: Do all signs point to Rob Portman?
  11. Christian Science Monitor: Can Paul Ryan deliver Wisconsin?

Portman Barnstorms Colorado

Potential Romney Vice President nominee Ohio Senator Rob Portman barnstormed across Colorado today hitting five stops to counter the President’s visit to the Rocky Mountain State:

Rob Portman, campaigning for Mitt Romney in Colorado on Wednesday, reminded supporters of the state’s election-day importance saying, “so goes Colorado, so goes the nation” and invoked President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The Ohio senator is shadowing Obama’s two-day, four-city swing in the state. Portman is on a bus tour through Colorado hopping on and off Romney’s campaign bus to greet and thank volunteers and supporters at the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign offices and other locations.

A loyal Romney surrogate, Portman told a small crowd of supporters in Lakewood, Colorado that recent polling in the state speaks for itself. “President Obama is in Colorado today being greeted by a poll put out by CBS, the New York Times, Quinnipiac showing Mitt Romney winning Colorado by five points,” said Portman, adding that the data shows a trend in favor of Romney. The Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday morning indicates that Romney holds a 50%-45% advantage in Colorado, a state that Obama won by nine points in 2008. Romney’s five point edge is just within the survey’s sampling error. According to the poll Romney also has a ten point advantage over Obama in Colorado when asked which candidate would do a better job fixing the economy.

Portman also said that Obama, while campaigning for president in 2008, said then-opponent Sen. John McCain couldn’t run on his record and he so would run negative campaign. Portman says Obama is now doing just that because he can’t run on his record. “He said, you know look, if you don’t have fresh ideas he said, you turn to stale tactics and attack your opponent. He said that if you don’t have a record to run on, then you make your opponent unacceptable. He said you make a big election about small things,” said Portman. “That was President Obama four years ago. Folks, that’s exactly what he’s doing today in Colorado and in his campaign, negative attack ads, trying to distract people from his record.”

Portman Trying On “Attack Dog” Role of Vice President? Shadows Obama

One of the more important roles of a Vice President nominee is to play the “attack dog” of a Presidential ticket allowing the Presidential nominee to stay above the fray laying out his own agenda.  Joe Biden is good in this role because he is able to authoritatively just make shit up and no one calls him on it.  Sarah Palin was brilliant at this, evidenced by her electric convention speech, for an otherwise flawed ticket in 2008. It looks like Ohio Senator Rob Portman is trying this role on for size starting tomorrow as he heads to Colorado to counter-punch for Romney during the President’s campaigns visit:

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will be in Colorado on Wednesday to offer counterpoints during President Barack Obama’s campaign visit there, and he will accompany Mitt Romney on a three-city Ohio trip next week that concludes with a rally in his home region of southern Ohio. The Romney campaign said Tuesday that details of the Aug. 14 bus tour in Ohio will be announced later, but a campaign website promoted an evening rally next Tuesday outside the Ross County Courthouse in Chillicothe that would wrap up Romney’s four-state bus trip… At least two other possible contenders, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, are expected to join Romney on the bus tour when it is in their home states. Portman’s office said he will be in central Ohio this weekend to take part in the Pelotonia bicycle ride to benefit cancer research.

Details also will be announced later on Portman’s trip Wednesday to Colorado for the Romney campaign. The president is scheduled to be in four Colorado cities over two days beginning Wednesday. Like Ohio, Colorado is a highly contested state.


Romney Victory Center Opening Today in Ontario, Ohio

Come out today and join Ohio Senator Rob Portman at the opening of the Romney Victory Center in Ontario, Ohio at 11:30am.

The office is located at:
2069 West 4th St
Ontario, OH 44960

You can RSVP here.

Update: Here is the Senator phoning supporters:

Quick Hits

Haven’t done one of these in awhile so here goes:

By more than 2:1 voters prefer Romney over Obama on handling the economy

The Jewish vote in Florida is a cause for concern in the Obama camp

The Rob Portman effect in Ohio

Fracking boom in Ohio could boost Obama … that is if Obama weren’t opposed to it

Super interesting financial disclosures in US Senate races — focus on Cash on Hand portion

Romney to VFW: Defense cuts would be devastating

The high risk-high reward of a Paul Ryan Vice Presidency


Battleground Counties: Hamilton County, Ohio

Note: This is based on an article published April 30, 2012

With Battleground counties gaining such prominence, I decided to go back and see what The Wall Street Journal published in their Swing Nation coverage.  Below is their look at Hamilton County, Ohio shortly after Romney locked up the GOP nomination:

As the 2012 race intensifies between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the political backdrop in this pivotal swing state is being shaped by events that roiled Ohio a year ago. The fight over the bargaining rights of public-employee unions energized partisans on both sides, and amounted to a trial run for the general election that each party is now trying to use to its advantage. Neither party has a decisive edge, and Ohio figures to be a pivotal as well as closely fought state in the presidential race. Both parties have targeted Ohio as a battleground state, and the two candidates plan to spend a lot of time there. Mr. Obama will be in Ohio this week during his official campaign kickoff. Mr. Romney paid a visit Friday.  And while the union fight and its aftermath will affect the November campaign, including Ohio’s congressional elections, it will hardly be the only issue. A recent survey by the Quinnipiac University Poll showed nine in 10 Ohioans rated the economy as “extremely important” or “very important.”

Public employee unions and collective bargaining rights

Last year’s fight over public-employee unions was waged when Ohio’s unemployment rate was around 9%. Since then, though, it has dropped to 7.5%. One political debate will be whether the Republican Gov. John Kasich—the man at the center of the union fight—or the Democratic president, Mr. Obama, gets credit if the state’s jobless rate continues to fall. Democrats think the fracas reopened the door for supporters who have slipped away in recent years: white, working-class, Republican-leaning voters who disliked the GOP move to shrink the power of public-sector unions, to which many remain loyal. During the fight last year, Mr. Obama lashed out against Ohio’s collective-bargaining law and a similar law in Wisconsin. Republicans, however, are optimistic the core debate over the size of government—including pay and pensions of public employees—will energize their base and pull financially pressed swing voters in their direction. Mr. Romney had backed the law, writing on his Facebook page last year that he fully supported Ohio Republicans’ efforts “to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low.” Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a potential GOP running mate, tried to stay on the sidelines during the fight, but he has supported collective-bargaining rights for police in the past.

Battleground county

Hamilton County is an important swing county in what may be the most important swing state. It is closely watched because its evenly divided electorate has so accurately reflected Ohio’s in the past. Vote tallies here almost precisely mirrored the state’s overall results when Ohio went for Mr. Obama in 2008, 52% to 47%, and then for Mr. Kasich in 2010, 49% to 47%. Ohio gives an ideal vantage point to see how the two parties are battling. Democratic campaign workers are poring over the 1.3 million voter signatures collected to repeal the collective-bargaining law, in hopes of pinpointing swing voters: Democrats say 10% of the signatures came from registered Republicans, 24% were Democrats and independents accounted for 65%. Hamilton generated more signatures per resident than any other county against three GOP-backed laws last year, including the collective-bargaining law. Its rich trove of votes has prompted the Obama campaign to open two of its 18 Ohio offices here. Volunteers began knocking on doors across the state two weeks ago.

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2,500 Words on Rob Portman

It seems plenty of people used the extended holiday week to crank out some serious verbiage. Robert Costa at The National Review takes a long look at today’s odds-0on favorite to get the Vice President call from Mitt Romney, Ohio Senator Rob Portman.  It’s a long worthwhile read, but I’ll bullet point the highlights:

  • As a student Portman perfected his Spanish on a 6-month kayak trip down the Rio Grande, which he still speaks fluently.
  • Portman served in two Cabinet-level posts for Bush 43, including budget director from 2006 to 2007. His budget tenure has dogged him throughout the veep season, and many Washington observers see it as his biggest liability.
  • Portman took care to defend his record at the Office of Management and Budget, talking up his push for a balanced budget and his efforts to make data about congressional earmarks available online.
  • Any fiscal hawk who examines his record, he argued, shouldn’t have a problem with it. “I served at a time when we had a strong economy, when we had deficits that we would die for today. I was able to propose a balanced budget, not over ten years, but over five years….I’m proud of that record.”
  • Portman also defended the Romney campaign’s senior team, which has come under fire in recent days for how it handled Romney’s follow-up to the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.
  • On whether Obamacare’s “penalty” is a tax, he echoed Romney’s comments to CBS News last week: “It’s not up to me. It’s up to the Supreme Court, and it’s a tax.”
  • He spoke about his late father, Bill Portman, who founded Portman Equipment Company a half-century ago after graduating from Dartmouth. “My family comes out of that background… My father left his job as a salesman to start his own business.”
  • About those Bain attacks? Portman was incredulous: “I frankly wonder why the Obama campaign wants to talk so much about [Romney’s] private-sector experience.”
  • Portman is a favorite of many within Romney’s inner circle, because of his political diligence, his fundraising prowess, and his policy acumen. “He knows how to work the details, and he probably understands the budget better than anyone running for president or vice president.”
  • Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney aide, told me after Romney won Ohio by a narrow margin that Portman put the campaign over the top: Thanks to Portman’s push, Romney came to Ohio “a week before the election, down eleven points, and quickly caught up.” And a Politico analysis of the exit polls shows that a quarter of Ohio Republicans made their decision during the final days of the campaign, when Portman and Romney were travel companions.
  • He has been a fundraising machine, raising millions for Romney from southwestern Ohio. Last month, he hosted a series of events with big-dollar donors, including one reception that netted more than $3 million for Romney and other Republicans.
  • Portman “passes the crucial test of preparedness.” If the Ohioan is selected, there will be “widespread consensus among Republicans, the media, and Democrats that he’s qualified from Day One to be commander-in-chief.”

Three Major Articles on Potential Vice Presidents

With not a lot of news out there, many outlets are compiling the latest and greatest discussions around Mitt Romney’s potential Vice President.

First up is the current favorite in the VP sweepstakes: Rob Portman:

The search for Mr. Romney’s running mate is entering its final phase, and Mr. Portman, who has ascended to senator from staff member during nearly three decades in Washington, is believed to be high on the list of prospects. He has campaigned repeatedly with Mr. Romney, and he is flying to New Hampshire this week — where the Romney family is vacationing — to appear at a Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Portman, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 after representing the Cincinnati area in the House for 12 years, is relatively unknown to most Republicans across the country. But here in Washington, where he worked in both Bush administrations and has won praise as an effective legislator, he is among a select breed of politicians who have a keen and deep understanding of the inner workings of government. When he arrived in the Senate, he startled some Republican colleagues when he pulled out his own charts and graphs that analyzed the nation’s rising deficits and its debt of $15 trillion.

ABC News gives a comprehensive comparative scorecard rundown on Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and John Thune:

Scorecards that measured [Senate] voting records in 2011 suggest that among these, Rubio had the most conservative voting record, and Portman the most moderate. Ayotte and Thune came in somewhere in between. The Republican budget proposals drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan since he became chairman of the House Budget Committee have boosted his stock tremendously among conservatives, but National Journal’s analysis found that, compared to his House colleagues, Ryan doesn’t rank in the top 100 conservatives in the chamber. National Journal’s report labeled him the “150th” most conservative House member in 2011.  Meanwhile, his ACU rating dropped 16 percentage points in 2011 to 80 percent, although he retains a high lifetime rating of 91.96 percent.

Politico takes a great look at the recent history of Vice Presidential jockeying and how the process has dramatically changed over the years:

Just as aspiring movie stars covet being among the nominees for cinema’s ultimate prize, ambitious politicians want to have their names on the oft-repeated list of potential vice presidents. Getting on the ticket is the ultimate goal, but even being a finalist — or convincing the media you were a finalist even if you weren’t — brings benefits, too. The veepstakes has long been a clinic in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) self-aggrandizement. But in recent years,the process has morphed into an open exercise in cautious but unmistakable résumé buffing. Politicians, their staffs and supporters quietly jockey to be among the mentioned in hopes of drawing media attention, better fundraising and a wider following that will aid future attempts at higher office. For at least a few years, the not-chosen few will invariably be deemed as “short-listers” or similar shorthand to denote their runner-up status.

Rob Portman Headlines New Hampshire GOP Event

An Ohio Senator headlining and party event in the battleground state of New Hampshire? Hmmmmm.  Sounds like someone is stepping up their Vice President auditioning schedule:

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will appear at a roundtable event with New Hampshire Republicans later this week, his office publicized Monday. According to the state’s GOP, he’ll lead the event Saturday at the party’s headquarters in Concord, where he’ll discuss the 2012 presidential election and take questions from the media.

Recent audition highlights in the CNN article:

  • made many high-profile appearances in recent weeks, including several campaign stops with Romney when the candidate blazed through Ohio on a bus tour last month
  • Portman traveled to Israel in May to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a trip that has practically become a must-stop for rising politicians
  • in a sit-down interview with WEWS, a CNN affiliate in Cleveland, Portman hinted at his credentials for the possible gig. “I’ve been able to bring people together to solve problems,” he said
  • Portman co-penned a memo for the Romney campaign along with Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey ahead of President Barack Obama’s bus tour, which is scheduled to run through both Ohio and the Keystone State at the end of the week

Quick Hits — Romney Edition

Romney supporters more engaged than Obama supporters in the election

Marco Rubio defends Mitt Romney on immigration stating this issues isn’t “solved in campaign talking points”

Ohio Governor Kasich states the Romney campaign didn’t attempt to dissuade him  from touting job gains

Mitt Romney invited to CPAC Colorado being held the day after the Presidential Debate being held at the University of Denver

Romney pushes 2012 battleground into union-friendly turf

The National Review weighs in on Rob Portman: Romney’s Quiet Man

Obama campaign ad gets highest rating for dishonesty from Washington Post

Five Reasons Why Rob Portman Will Be Romney’s Vice President

Although we have voiced our opinion on this matter, the tea leaves are telling me it will not happen. As we turn our attention elsewhere, Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s name keeps popping up on our radar. Yahoo! News contributor Professor John Tures outlines five reason everyone should pay attention to that Vice President buzz:

The smart odds should be on newly elected Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who just shared a campaign appearance with Romney, for the following five reasons.

  1. Capitol Hill experience. Though he has only served as a U.S. senator for only a year and a half, Portman is no stranger to Congress. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for several terms. And though Romney wears his lack of Washington experience like a badge of honor, he’s going to need some to know how Capitol Hill works, if he intends to get any initiative passed.
  2. Foreign policy experience. As the United States; trade representative under George W. Bush, Portman picked up some valuable international experience that Romney needs. Governors tend to get executive experience, but few lessons on how to handle foreign policy.
  3. Long resume. Romney only has four years of political experience at the statewide level, exactly the number of years Obama had in the 2008 election. Portman provides a longer resume to boost the experience factor, and brings more to the table than Sarah Palin did four years ago, or Florida Senator Marco Rubio does today.
  4. Swing state address. By having an Ohio zip code, Portman can offer more than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Ohio has more electoral votes than Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, where other touted candidate are from.
  5. Problems with other nominees. The trial of Jim Greer has brought up the unpleasant business of the Florida Republican Party credit card, which spells bad news for Rubio. Pawlenty failed to excite during the 2012 primaries. Ayotte doesn’t have as much experience. Scott Walker needed a 30:4 spending advantage to avoid being recalled. Condoleezza Rice is too closely associated with unpopular Bush decisions in Iraq.

Portman brings all of these skills to the table, avoids many of the weaknesses of others, and is reputed to be a good debater, which should help him best Joe Biden. Some see him as only a “safe” pick, but that’s probably what Romney needs as the election tightens.

The Key to Ohio: Rob Portman?

There is plenty of buzz around the candidacy of Rob Portman as Mitt Romney’s Vice President.  According to Roll Call, the strength of Portman to Romney’s chances in Ohio have more to do with the man himself than any cache from having him as a running mate:

Since launching his first statewide campaign three years ago, Portman has built a strong political network throughout Ohio, including in the rural counties rich in conservative voters that could be crucial to Romney’s success this fall. Perhaps more importantly for Romney in his bid to oust President Barack Obama, Portman has credibility with a broad cross section of the party sufficient to activate this network on behalf of others. “Along the Ohio River, there’s a lot of people that will walk on hot coals for Rob Portman,” Brown County GOP Chairman Paul Hall said. “If he comes in and says, ‘We need to do this,’ it’s going to happen because Rob needs them to do it.”

Romney knows what he needs in Ohio and is showing it:

The former Massachusetts governor’s first bus tour of the general election campaign cut a rare path through small towns and rural outposts in six battleground Rust Belt states, including Ohio. Republican officials in rural Ohio counties confirmed that the Romney campaign has communicated with them regularly since the GOP primary concluded, including through in-person staff visits and invitations to participate in conference calls. These officials said they have not received this much attention since President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. In 2008, they saw Obama in their area more than they heard from or saw Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Romney’s outreach to rural Ohio is vital given his weak performance there throughout the contentious Republican primary. But his prospects against Obama depend on much more than rural turnout. Romney will need to exhibit strength in suburban and exurban battlegrounds near Cincinnati in the southwest, around Cleveland in the northeast, and surrounding Columbus in central Ohio. These are high-population regions loaded with swing voters and independents.

Enter Portman:

From 1993 to 2005, Portman represented a House district anchored by the Cincinnati suburbs that stretched into rural counties along the Ohio River. It is a GOP stronghold and a national stop on the Republican fundraising circuit. The Senator’s political coalition and donor network there have long been muscular. It’s Portman’s ability to branch out across the state and forge ties with key Republican constituencies, including rank-and-file activists, tea party supporters and moneyed campaign contributors, that makes the former Bush administration official potentially so valuable to Romney. Last week, Romney publicly thanked Portman during an Ohio campaign stop for helping him win March’s close Ohio presidential primary. Romney beat former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) by only 1 point, and Portman’s Ohio backers said Romney’s compliment was more than the polite hyperbole that is typically offered by nominees as they barnstorm with their supporters.

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