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Many Republicans Seek Plain Vanilla Choice for Vice President

By    |   Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:57 AM

Many Republicans hope presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney opts for an uncontroversial choice as his running mate. That could well mean Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Politico reports.

Meanwhile, the history of Romney’s hires at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded, indicates he may choose a candidate in his own image. That would mean someone “smart, ambitious, clean-cut, and a little awkward,” according to The Hill. That also could signal Portman, or perhaps Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Much of the vice presidential speculation has focused on exciting choices, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. But Portman, budget director in George W. Bush’s White House, cuts a much lower profile.

While Rubio will release what may be a blockbuster autobiography this summer, Portman’s last book, published in 2004, provided a history of Ohio’s Shaker society. And while Christie and Ryan have advocated for bold changes in government policy, Portman has offered bipartisan bills on energy efficiency and cutting government bureaucracy.

But Portman’s lack of pizzazz and nose-to-the-grindstone style may be exactly what the GOP needs on its ticket, some Republicans say. “There’s not an excitement deficit in the country, there’s a financial deficit,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Politico. “What Rob would be is steady and thoughtful at a time when we need both.”

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a possible vice presidential choice himself, concurs. “I think steady is good. I think solid is good. And those are both good descriptions of a guy like Portman,” he told Politico. “I don’t think bland is a liability. It’s probably a virtue.”

Portman doesn’t hide from the bland persona. “That’s fine. I’m focused on the issues.” he told Politico.

As for Romney and his 25 years at Bain, his hiring decisions turned out well, building the company into one of the top private equity firms in the world.

“First-rate brain power, first-rate analytical power. These were sometimes kind of geeky people,” Howard Anderson, a senior lecturer at the MIT business school who invested with Bain as an entrepreneur, told The Hill. “They were not often people who would be elected class president.”

Romney’s probably not looking for someone who will simply parrot his views, Geoffrey Rehnert, an early Bain partner, told the news service. Romney respected divergent views, as long as they were justified by solid research.

“He went to law school and believed deeply that smart people debating points of view would lead to creative solutions and better decisions,” Rehnert said. “Mitt is highly analytical and very apt at digging in himself and getting to the crux of an issue.”

Romney opted for laid back workers, but ones with plenty of ability and confidence, Rehnert said. “There are some very brilliant people who you want to strangle. These were not them.”

This history indicates Romney may well select Portman, or perhaps Daniels, who also served as budget director under George W. Bush.

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:57 AM
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