Romney has other options. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is bold and blunt—two things Romney will never be. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is highly regarded but has said he’s uninterested in national office. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is said to be a Romney fave, but his recent signing of a law mandating invasive procedures for Virginia women seeking an abortion would highlight social issues. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal might be a good choice, if he’s upped his game from his 2009 response to the State of the Union address, which he apparently did in character as Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock.
And so, by process of elimination, we circle back to Portman. He’s from Ohio, the quintessential swing state, where he consistently won his southern Ohio House district with 70 percent of the vote. In his 2010 campaign for Senate he outspent his opponent 9-to-1, garnering 57 percent of the vote and carrying 82 of his state’s 88 counties. Impressive. He has executive experience as well, having served George W. Bush as budget director. There’s a big downside there: it was Bush’s budgets that turned history’s biggest surpluses into history’s biggest deficits, mostly by cutting taxes for the rich and bogging us down in endless wars. Romney, whose agenda focuses on still more tax breaks for the rich and who opposed Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq, could be painted as a man determined to drag us backward. As Obama strategist David Axelrod has said, Romney “sees the world through the rear-view mirror. He watches Mad Men and thinks it’s the evening news.”