Sen. Portman: I May Consider Run for President

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 10:33 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Republican Sen. Rob Portman is keeping alive talk of a possible 2016 run for president.

In an interview Tuesday with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, the veteran lawmaker — the Republican party’s designated sparring partner in the 2008 and 2012 presidential debates — was quizzed on whether he's ruled out a White House bid, the Daily Caller reported.

Portman, in an artful dodge, said he was busy helping get Republicans elected this year.

"I am focused on one thing right now . . . to take back the Senate for the Republicans," he said, "because I really believe that is the best thing we can do for the country right now," the Daily Caller reported.

"So, to be frank with you, I haven’t really given it serious consideration because I’m totally focused on getting this majority."

Nudged by Hewitt, who called Portman's answer a "Shermanesque statement," the lawmaker said: “Well, look, it’s not something that I am considering right now. I’m considering focusing on my job as a senator and Ohio, and then, second, trying to be sure that we are successful in 2014."

Portman, of Ohio, said he "purposefully" didn't put himself "on the list," noting, "I don’t think there’s a deadline in particular."

"But the way these things go, Hugh, it seems like the election starts sooner and sooner," he conceded. "And frankly, that, I think, does not serve the American people well . . .  And yet here we are talking about, you know, is it going to be Hillary Clinton or is it going to be somebody else, or what’s the latest with regard to the presidential candidates on the Republican side. I think it’s kind of premature."

But it's not a prospect that's so far-fetched, says Larry Sabato, professor of politics and  director of the University of Virginia Center for Politcs.

Writing in Politico magazine this month, Sabato suggested Portman may be exactly the kind of candidate the GOP needs, noting his leap into the national headlines with his announcement that his son Will, an undergraduate student at Yale, was gay — and that he also supported same-sex marriage.

With the declaration last year, Portman exhibited "a genuine profile in courage who has dramatically broken with GOP orthodoxy and demonstrated a capacity for growth," Sabato wrote.

"I often heard political observers on both sides of the aisle name him as one of the most qualified and able presidential candidates the GOP could muster," he said, noting Portman's service as a member of the House from 1993 to 2005, as a U.S. trade representative for President George W. Bush, and later as director of Bush's Office of Management and Budget.

"Colleagues on both sides of the aisle like Portman, who is low-key and willing to listen, if not agree, with others’ strongly held points of view," he added. "He’s serious, credible, and smart. So why isn’t there more Portman chatter?"

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