“I can’t imagine that he will not be on the [VP] short-list, day one, for virtually any of the candidates that have a shot of getting the nomination,” said former New York GOP Rep. Rick Lazio, a Portman confidante urging him to run for president. “I can’t recall when he’s ever made a gaffe. He’s just a very reliable partner to have on a ticket.”

In an interview with POLITICO before slipping out of the Capitol for the holiday, Portman kept the door open to a presidential run — but also seemed to be having an internal debate with himself over where he can best serve: As a presidential hopeful who could set himself up to be a strong vice presidential candidate, or as a deal-making legislator in a Capitol filled with ideologues and bereft of the consensus-seekers of yore.

“I love being a manager. My favorite jobs have been OMB, USTR, management jobs. Because you have the ability to inspire a team and accomplish big things,” he said. “But I also value the role of a legislator because ultimately the laws we pass here and the influence we have … on big issues is important to the people of Ohio and the people of our country. So it’s an honor to get to serve.”…

The outstanding question: Is there appetite for an even-keeled Republican insider to run for president — or serve as vice president?