I don’t normally like to make predictions. Mostly because I don’t like being wrong on the record. However, I would like to predict that there is a good chance that Mitt Romney will pick Ohio Senator Rob Portman as his Vice-Presidential running mate.
Mitt Romney is not a gambler. He succeeded in business (not a positive value judgment, I think his time at Bain Capital was terrible) because he played it safe. His presidential campaign has been a case study in playing it safe.
Portman is the safe bet.
Reasons why I believe Mitt Romney will choose Rob Portman:
- Ohio is a swing state. Portman won in 2010 with a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
- Portman speaks spanish.
- Portman is extremely bland. Romney will not pick a running mate who outshines him.
- Portman was a congressman, he was a U.S. trade representative, he served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George Bush and he is now a Senator from a major state. He would automatically pass the media’s experience test. John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 means that Romney will be picking in the Post-Palin context.
I am not unique in my belief that Senator Portman will be Romney’s V.P. choice. However, I do believe that Rob Portman has 3 large weaknesses that aren’t being discussed in articles speculation on Romney’s choice:
1. In the Senate, Portman voted for the Blunt-Rubio amendment. This was the most regressive anti-abortion amendment to be put forward in the decades that have passed since Roe. Portman doesn’t campaign like a Rick Santorum but he is not immune from the “war on women” narrative.
2. In the Senate, Portman voted for the Paul Ryan budget. Romney embraced the Paul Ryan plan to gut Medicare and kill Social Security but he never had to vote for it. The Ryan Plan is deservedly unpopular and Romney’s campaign has purposely avoided putting forward economic specifics. Portman’s vote would force Romney to get in to the weeds on the Ryan budget.
3. Rob Portman was Budget Director for President George W. Bush. He is quick to spin fiercely and take credit for the good economy he inherited from President Clinton. Romney’s entire campaign for the Republican nomination was based on repudiating the non-foreign policy legacy of President Bush. He relished being to the right of his opponents on immigration (an area where President Bush tried to work with Democrats.) Candidate Romney attacked his opponents for their votes on the debt ceiling and for supporting programs like “No Child Left Behind.” Though Portman was elected to the Senate in 2010, he can be tied to the Bush Presidency and he was in congress for more than half of Bush’s presidency.