Politico | Like George H. W. Bush, Rob Portman’s a “genteel” conservative

Sen. Rob  Portman is a Bush man, all right. But just not the Bush you may be thinking  of.

In both his political education and political identity, Portman is much more  closely aligned with the 41st president than with the 43rd. The Ohio senator and  GOP vice-presidential finalist got his start in national politics on George H.W. Bush’s 1980 presidential campaign and partly  owes his first congressional victory to former first lady Barbara Bush, who  recorded a radio ad name-dropping Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili and Portman in the  same sentence. And overall, his views and political style are more reminiscent  of the first President Bush: center-right, bipartisan, results-oriented and  gentlemanly, if not terribly charismatic.

As the clock ticks toward a decision by Mitt Romney on his running mate and speculation about  Portman intensifies, he’s coming under increasing scrutiny for his work as  George W. Bush’s trade representative and director of Office of Management and  Budget. Conservatives fret what that might mean for his approach to spending,  which spiked under the most recent GOP administration, and victory-hungry  Republicans worry about putting somebody on the ticket who may remind swing  voters of the party’s recent unpleasantness.


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