Speculation About Portman On GOP Ticket Continues
The opening of a presidential campaign headquarters is rarely big news, but a campaign launch this weekend was. And it wasnât because of the presence of the candidate, but because of one of his supporters. Itâs not unusual for a U.S. Senator like Rob Portman to be on hand for the opening of the state presidential campaign office of the candidate for his party. But Portman is also a leading contender to be Mitt Romneyâs running mate. Several hundred Republicans were on hand to cheer him and other GOP officeholders to kick off a weekend of planned door-knocking and phone-calling for Romney in all 88 counties. An hour before he spoke, a couple of Democratic lawmakers were across the street under a huge anti-Romney billboard, blasting both Romney and Portman. Tracy Heard is a state representative from Columbus, and sheâs worried the Republican Party will put Portman on the ticket. "You know, he was the director of OBM at the time under President Bush, so I think it kind of gives a great foreshadowing of what we could expect in terms of economic policies from him if he were the number two," Heard says. And Senator Charleta Tavares of Columbus says sheâs suspicious of a possible strategy of making a lawmaker from this key swing state the VP nominee. "It worries me that they would have that kind of narrow mindedness about the state of Ohio that simply because you have a legislator from Ohio that the public is going to be duped into supporting them just because they carry the Buckeye banner," says Tavares. Across the street at the Romney headquarters, the opinion of some party faithful is strong for Romney, and mixed for Portman. Joyce Clegg and Joan Gordon, both of Columbus, think heâd be a good running mate for Romney. "For me, yes. I very much enjoy his approach to interacting with people and his amazing experience in politics as well as law and business," Clegg says. "Right," echoes Gordon. "eâs got the same integrity going as Mitt Romney has. They would be a good, good twosome." But Jan Abshire of Reynoldsburg isnât impressed. Kasler: "You say you havenât heard a whole lot about Rob Portman." Abshire: "And what I did hear was not good, positive." Kasler: "So having him on the ticket you wouldnât necessarily think is a good thing?" Abshire: "You know, I donât know enough about him to answer that, to be very honest." Her thoughts are reflected in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, which shows 30 percent respondents have an unfavorable opinion of Portman with 19 percent calling their view of him favorable â and 51 percent have no opinion about him. And among Republicans with an opinion, 49 percent view him positively, 51 percent negatively. Among conservatives, the split is 39 percent favorable to 61 percent unfavorable. Ted Dibiase of Dublin says portmabâs possible place on the ticket doesnât matter to him if Portman is the vice presidential candidate. "I think that we have to get Obama out of office â I mean thatâs the big thing right now. And I think though, Portman would be a great candidate, heâd be fine in there. Iâm more pushing for Rubio, myself," Dibiase says. As for Portman, he continues to say that heâs not gunning for the VP slot, and wonât even hint as to whether heâs in talks for the position. "Look, I, you know, from the very start, even long before there was much speculation I said this is going to be up to the Romney campaign. "Iâm not going to reveal anything on my side, so â itâs up to them. Iâm interested in doing the job Iâm doing, honestly. I want to keep representing Ohio in the United States Senate." Mitt Romney himself will be back in Ohio on Wednesday to fundraise in Cincinnati - which incidentally is Portmanâs hometown. And as has been typical in this campaign already, when one candidate is in Ohio one day, the other isnât far behind â President Obama will be in Cleveland on Thursday.