The drumbeat for Mitt Romney to pick Ohio Senator Rob Portman for the number two spot ont he GOP ticket grows louder.
National Journal's Major Garrett says it makes nothing but sense for Romney to pick Portman as his running mate. He argues Portman fits with Romney for a number of reasons.
Portman is vetted, more so than any other potential pick. He's been confirmed not once but twice to cabinet posts -- U.S. trade representative in 2005 and Office of Management and Budget director in 2006. The files are ready and, by Washington standards, spotless. Romney knows his pick must get off to a good start and any "surprises" after the rollout will deprive his campaign of precious time, energy, and momentum. Portman is a known commodity among Washington reporters and is regarded as both knowledgeable and accessible (and as a dispenser of well-timed leaks). In the frenzied environment that will accompany the prelude to Romney's pick, the Portman choice may land with a thud on the charisma meter, but it won't set in motion a wave of "guess what" stories and will allow Romney to focus on the campaign, not thorny revelations that must be ritualistically turned into an us-against-them media meme. In fact, Portman might actually talk Boston out of its hypertensive and allergic reactions to reporters.
Portman is to Romney what Al Gore was to Bill Clinton. He amplifies the central message and the skills set the "alternative" ticket brings. The choice is about President Obama and another term. It's a firing choice more than a hiring choice. In this context, the alternative needs to be acceptable, not exciting. Portman is not Romney in miniature and Romney isn't Portman in miniature. But they are both boardroom-ready and politically inclined. They are cool, analytical, data-driven and conversant in the central issue of the day -- the economy. This is not '92 and Romney won't have a force carving up the Democratic base like Ross Perot did to Bush the elder. Romney's not charismatic and never will be. Portman reinforces all that Romney offers or hopes to offer the country. And won't suffer charisma comparisons to Portman. Don't kid yourself that this doesn't matter to Romney.