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VP rumors start as Terrace Park’s Portman endorses Romney 
January 23, 2012

Ohio’s junior senator, Rob Portman of Terrace Park, endorsed GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney in South Carolina Thursday, immediately firing up speculation that Portman could be a potential running mate for the GOP frontrunner. 

Portman, who attended the GOP candidates’ debate in South Carolina Thursday night, has the resume of a vice presidential candidate – seven terms representing Southwest Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, White House experience as President George W. Bush’s trade representative and budget director, and, most recently as a member of the bipartisan “super committee’ charged with finding substantial cuts in federal spending. 

In his endorsement statement, Portman took a jab at President Barack Obama, in addition to lauding Romney. 

“Four years ago, President Obama came to Ohio and promised to change the broken system in Washington and fix our economy – he has failed on both counts,” Portman said. “Mitt Romney has been a lifelong leader who has shown how to bring people together to turn around tough situations. And right now, that’s exactly what our nation needs.” 

Romney called Portman a “leader in the fight for a balanced budget” and said it was “an honor to have the support of such a committed public servant.” 

Portman’s move also highlights the key role Ohio will play as a battleground state in the presidential election. 

But Romney may want to pick somebody more associated with the Tea Party movement, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., or somebody more closely associated with social conservatives of the party, such as former senator and GOP rival Rick Santorum. 

Ohio Democrats quickly tried to add their voice to the story, using Portman’s announcement to throw a punch at Romney, who appears to be solidifying his bid for the nomination. The Ohio presidential primary is March 6. 

“Ohioans don’t need someone as president who puts the needs of big corporations and the wealthiest among us ahead of the needs of the middle class,” Seth Bringman, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said of Romney in a statement Thursday morning. 

Portman’s visit to South Carolina to endorse Romney came two days before the South Carolina primary. If Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, wins Saturday, many Republicans believe he will be unstoppable in his march to the GOP presidential nomination. 

Romney, among other GOP presidential contenders, came to Ohio in 2009 to help raise money for Portman’s successful 2010 Senate campaign. 

Last week, Portman went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and was hammered with questions about whether or not he would be interested in the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket. 

“I’m not interested,’’ Portman said. “I’m not seeking it.” 

Four years ago, Portman was among a number of potential running mates vetted by the campaign of GOP nominee John McCain. 

Instead, McCain landed on then-Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. 

Read this and other articles at the Cincinnati Enquirer

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