Real Clear Politics has a fascinating story on the internal dynamics of the Senate race here in Ohio, but perhaps the most interesting part is this bit near the end:
Portman’s name surfaced in the summer of 2008 as a potential running mate pick for Arizona Sen. John McCain shortly after McCain secured the GOP presidential nomination. He faded from the mix due to his Bush administration jobs, which strategists deemed too damaging in that cycle.
One top Democratic operative with a hand in the race suggested that for Portman, the race is not just about winning a Senate seat, but is more about showing the GOP grasstops that he ran the best campaign of the election cycle. And Republican operatives tied to several different potential GOP presidential hopefuls already consider Portman a likely contender for the running mate slot should he prevail this November.
Given how disciplined his campaign’s been thus far, Portman may have an opening for him at a higher level (and as I noted then, people have been elected with less experience). Some other highlights from the RCP story below:
Democratic sources in the state said that Fisher’s pathway to victory relies on going negative early by tying Portman to Bush and attacking his record on trade. At the same time, other Democratic sources said they were surprised last month to see that Portman’s campaign debuted an attack more than three months before the general election.[…]
Portman hasn’t had to expend much energy on the attack yet, in part because Fisher has had a number of struggles this year with poor fundraising and staff turnover. In addition, Fisher did not address a gathering of the Ohio Coal Association in Columbus last week and cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for his absence. Portman gave remarks and took questions from members, and both Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and his Republican opponent, John Kasich, also appeared before the organization.
As Fisher has shed staff and hired a new team, including a new campaign manager, press secretary and two new fundraisers, Portman’s campaign has functioned with presidential campaign precision. Top Portman staffers said they are simply running the campaign they have to in order to win a close election in a swing state, and Portman said he’s telling his staff to run as if he’s 10 points behind in the polls. Still, Democrats in the state have begun to scoff that Portman is auditioning.