It’s 6 p.m. CST as I begin writing this column, and polls in the Texas primary should be closing right now. If former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) wins, as he is expected to do, he will have racked up enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. Now everyone can feel comfortable speculating who his vice-presidential pick will be. So far it seems that everyone feels comfortable picking the same person: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
Yes, Portman. Not that there’s anything wrong with him, although his rather skimpy foreign policy experience could prove a liability, but it appears I was completely out of step with all the other pundits when I said Romney needed a game-changing pick to prove his credibility as a Republican candidate. Meaning, not another white businessman. Perhaps safe-as-they-come is the new game changer in this election cycle.
So, what do we know about Rob Portman? On the pro side:
- long history in the legislative branch, having been a House member in the early 2000s, although less people approve of that than ever;
- experience in the executive branch as U.S. Trade Representative under former President George W. Bush;
- won seven consecutive elections with a 70 percent majority;
- grew up working in his father’s business;
- credited with working across the aisle (well, I think it’s a pro, anyway);
- married with three children;
- strong Second Amendment supporter;
- reliably pro-life, even to the point of supporting the Blunt Amendment (well, some think that’s a pro);
- serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee;
- member of the Sportsmen’s Caucus;
- from the Midwest;
- headed to Israel.
On the con side:
- not enough military or foreign policy experience to counter-balance Romney;
- ran the Office of Management and Budget under Bush, during which time the national debt grew by billions;
- another goddamn lawyer;
- generally speaking, as interesting as whole-wheat toast with no butter.
Of course, most of those cons will probably be considered nitpicky, although his OMB experience will provide an excellent opportunity for the Democrats. But here’s the main reason Romney will most likely choose Portman: He’s surrounded himself with too many nuts not to choose him. This pick will come more as a relief than a surprise, and Romney has a lot of voters to relieve.