Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has emerged as a potential frontrunner for the GOP vice presidential nomination in 2016 – even though he’s still keeping the door open for a White House run.
Portman has already been making all the right moves for a presidential bid while playing a vital role in helping the GOP take control of the Senate and visiting early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire, according to Politico
The swing state senator has also impressed his colleagues on Capitol Hill with a resume that includes his tenure in the House, director of the Office of Management and Budget, George W. Bush’s U.S. trade representative, and as the outgoing vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Last month, Portman revealed that he planned to “take a look” at joining the next presidential race
, saying he’d be “talking to family, talking to friends and some who’ve been encouraging me and analyze the situation."
But political pundits see the unassuming Portman, who calls himself a pragmatic conservative rather than a moderate or centrist, as a better fit for the nation’s “veep” behind a more outgoing candidate, Politico reported.
“I can’t imagine that he will not be on the (vice presidential) short list, day one, for virtually any of the candidates that have a shot of getting the nomination,” said former New York GOP Rep. Rick Lazio, a Portman confidant who has urged him to reach for an even higher office, as in the presidency.
“I can’t recall when he’s ever made a gaffe. He’s just a very reliable partner to have on a ticket.”
Portman told Politico that he’s torn on how he can best serve his country and himself – whether he’s a serious presidential hopeful or a White House candidate who would likely be thought of as a strong vice presidential candidate, or a policy-setting lawmaker in a party where there is a growing rift between conservatives and the establishment.
“I love being a manager…because you have the ability to inspire a team and accomplish big things,” he said. “But I also value the role of a legislator because ultimately the laws we pass here and the influence we have on big issues is important to the people of Ohio and the people of our country. So it’s an honor to get to serve.”
Portman faces some stiff opposition for a potential White House run in the Senate alone, namely tea party member Ted Cruz of Texas, libertarian Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Then, of course, Portman’s rivals could include a string of GOP governors, such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mike Pence of Indiana, John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who Politico also bills as a pragmatic conservative, is likely to make a run as well.
Portman may end up feeling pressured to settle for the vice presidency position, but as Rubio noted, “whatever he decides to do, you should take him seriously.”
But a veteran Republican operative told the political news website that Portman faces one major drawback in a possible presidential bid – he’s too understated.
“If there is a limitation, and it comes as no real surprise, it’s that he doesn’t have any charisma,” the strategist said. “And in a day and age where charisma probably counts more than it ever has simply because of the way our media works, that is a tremendous limitation.”
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