Over the weekend, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio held a press conference in Concord, N.H., just a few miles from Mitt Romney’s summer home. NRO was there:
Surrounded by cameras, Republican flacks, and many notepads, the senator flashed a thin smile and then ducked into the “Constitution Room,” where he took a seat at a long table. A pair of New Hampshire GOP officials sat beside him. What followed for the next 40 minutes was a case study in how a prominent politician can deftly play the vice-presidential game. By holding an open “press availability,” Portman signaled that he is not shy about being considered a short-lister, and his winking humor with national political reporters at the beginning of the presser illuminated his comfort with the role he’s playing. “Some big hitters here — wow,” he said as he glanced around the room. He settled his gaze on Time’s Mark Halperin and New York’s John Heilemann, the bestselling authors of Game Change. “What are you guys doing in New Hampshire?” he asked. Halperin’s reply was swift: “Same thing you are: trying to get a meeting with Governor Romney.” The hovering politicos and reporters, including Portman, exploded with laughter.