Rob Portman, the new senator from Ohio. I realize he was just elected two seconds ago — last November. But he has had long and varied political experience. For twelve years, he served in the House. He was a standout on the tax and budget committees. Then he was U.S. trade representative. Then he was OMB director (like Mitch Daniels). Now, of course, he’s a senator. He is bright, versatile, adept, conservative, and appealing. He comes from the heartland, and a key state. Additionally, he’s the “right age” to be president (55).
Way back in 1999, I interviewed Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was then serving as President Clinton’s “drug czar.” Of Portman, he said, “I hope he’s president of the United States in another twelve years. He’s one of the finest public servants I’ve met in America.”
I borrow a line from the legendary Thomas Brackett Reed, a Republican Speaker of the House in the late 1890s: “The Republican party could do worse, and probably will.” (I learned that line from Bob Novak.) Portman is the kind of guy who is talked about for v.p. Funny thing about those guys who are talked about for v.p.: Some of them ought to be talked about for p.