The Spectacle Blog

Why Not Portman?

By on 8.19.08 | 12:59PM

The supposed selection of Dayton, Ohio, just up the road from Rob Portman's Cincinnati, has people once again putting him higher on the list of McCain's possible Veep picks. While I actually think Portman would be a fine selection, because by all accounts he is a solid guy, I repeat my earlier contention that politically he falls WELL short of BOTH of the other should-be candidates that he has most in common with.

Compared to John Kasich, also former congressman from Ohio, Portman has less of the personal touch, less of the "everyman" persona, no blue-collar background, represented a safer Ohio district (and thus brings with him fewer "swing" voters), has only one state he calls home compared to Kasich's Ohio AND Pennyslvania, has fewer real accomplishments as a legislator, was a Budget Chief (OMB) during a time of high deficits compared to the balanced budget under Kasich as House Budget Chief, is extremely closely tied with the Bushes (a big negative) whereas Kasich isn't, and has a lower profile because he doesn't have a national TV show.

Compared to Chris Cox, he has the extensive Bush ties rather than the helpful Cox ties to the Reagan White House (and also Cox heads an agency independent of the White House rather than being a trade rep and budget director FOR this Bush White House), has FAR fewer accomplishments in Congress, has no real experience with Russia and far less with China than Cox, has a much less interesting back story (no broken back, no hockey injuries), has a slightly less impressive academic record (no DUAL grad degree in law AND business), has far less support among knowledgeable grass-roots folks, has less cache with the conservative movement and especially with movement intellectuals (such as George Will or the WSJ edit board), offers no entree into any "new" constituency (compared to Cox's ability to be cast as an absolute hero to the whole tech world because of his authorship of the Internet Tax Free Act and his defense of Silicon Valley from the ravages of trial lawyer scofflaw Bill Lerach).... and lots else, too. And they rank equal in terms of geographic advantages: the Cincy suburbs are GOP anyway, and McCain needs to fish elsewhere for Ohio votes; whereas Cox helps marginally in his birth state of Minnesota.

Politically, he offers nothing that is BETTER than what Kasich or Cox offers. Again, he's safe and he's smart and he's a good guy -- but what, pray tell, does he ADD to the ticket?

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