CINCINNATI (AP) — President Barack Obama's Ohio campaign is urging people to tell stories about Rob Portman's "real record," with the Ohio Republican senator believed to be among the leading contenders to become Mitt Romney's running mate.
An appeal circulating this week states that Ohioans should tell what they think Americans "need to know" about Portman. There is a website form for submitting Portman stories. A similar effort is under way by Obama's campaign in Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio is also often cited as a potential VP candidate, and the campaign there asks Floridians to share the "good, bad and ugly" on the senator.
Emails from Obama state director Greg Schultz and online messages to Ohioans about Portman say "If and when Romney does select him, we need to be able to tell the full story about his record." They offer some prompts, saying the former Bush administration official has been part of policies that hurt middle-class families and the U.S. economy.
"It's our responsibility to make sure he isn't elevated to a position where he can do it again, this time, as vice president," the Obama campaign states. A message for comment was left with the Obama campaign state office.
A spokesman for Romney's campaign in Ohio called the appeal another example of the president using "negative smear campaigns" to offset his economic record.
"It comes as no surprise ... he is once again resorting to the same playbook against Gov. Romney and our potential vice presidential nominees," Romney spokesman Chris Maloney said.
Portman was campaigning Wednesday for Romney in Colorado, while President Obama was also campaigning in the swing state. Portman will join Romney in Ohio next Tuesday on a three-city bus tour across the state. Rubio is expected to be with Romney when he is in Florida on the four-state bus tour.
The 56-year-old Cincinnati area native has deep Washington experience, with six-plus terms as a congressman, Cabinet-level roles as U.S. Trade Representative and White House budget chief, and his Senate time since his 2010 election. And his home state is traditionally crucial to Republican White House hopes.
Democrats had already made clear they would highlight his close ties to former President George W. Bush, who left office unpopular and amid a national financial crisis.
Associated Press reporter Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee contributed.
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