Portman Says White House Bid Possible Depending on GOP Field


Senator Rob Portman, with a long political resume including terms in both the House and Senate along with a stint in the Bush cabinet, says he will base a decision on a White House bid starting early next year on the other GOP candidates who enter the race.

"I'm going to be watching and see if we have candidates that will step forward and talk about these issues and put forward a positive optimistic agenda to move this country forward," said Portman.  "I think there are probably 10 people looking at it, nobody has formally announced yet but in that group there may be some people I'd be able to get behind and support and help broaden the base for the Republican Party."

Portman, appearing for a taping of 10TVs Capitol Square, would not comment on any of the expected candidates in the race and he gave no indication of whether they meet his definition of broadening the base of the GOP.

Portman was the first senator last year to endorse same-sex marriage and while polls show that's a better position in a general election, it could still be problematic in Iowa and South Carolina, two of the first three states determining the GOP nominee.

He did, however, hint that a centrist candidate may be the best way for Republicans to recapture the White House after two unsuccessful attempts.

"I do think the country is in tough shape and in fact I think it's worse than 1992 when Bill Clinton came out of nowhere and won as a more centrist Democrat," said Portman.  "I think our economy is structurally unsound and I think it requires new policies and changes."

The first term senator did give praise to a potential opponent - fellow Ohioan governor John Kasich.

"John has done a good job here in Ohio," said Portman.  "His working with the Republican legislature is sort of a model."

Portman is credited with helping land the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  He says he's now working to help Columbus land the Democratic counterpart.

"Columbus is in the mix for the Democratic Convention and I'm promoting that," said Portman.  "Just as Sherrod Brown said he would promote the Republicans coming to Cleveland, I think Ohio ought to have two.  It would be great."