Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman is not in any rush to endorse a GOP presidential candidate, even though several appear to be courting his support. Former governors Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have visited Portman’s office, the first-term Republican from Ohio told the Columbus Dispatch
Portman, though, is not endorsing anyone until just before Ohio’s presidential primary, a race that could be pivotal unless Romney wins the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
“Ohio is all about the general election, and that’s what I view as my assignment,” Portman told the Dispatch. “My assignment is to help deliver Ohio. Two of the last three elections were decided by Ohio.”
Portman — who has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate — is also familiar with other GOP contenders, having served in the House with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Republicans believe Portman will support Romney because of their similar backgrounds. Portman is a Dartmouth College graduate who earned a law degree at the University of Michigan, and Romney graduated from Brigham Young University before earning a law degree and MBA from Harvard University. They both also have business experience.
However, many ultra-conservatives don’t believe Romney is conservative enough, and Portman could alienate people by siding too early with Romney.
Portman said he wants the candidates to “lay out a clear alternative” to President Barack Obama on job creation and to warn voters government must control growth in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
“It requires candidates who clearly spell out alternatives,” Portman said. “And the Republican candidate sure as heck better spell out the reality to voters on the budget — which is: you have to deal with the important, but unsustainable, entitlement programs, which will otherwise bankrupt the country if you don’t reform.”
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