Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, considered by many to be the front-runner to land the No. 2 slot on the GOP ticket, was noticeably absent from a bus tour headlined by top supporters of Mitt Romney on Thursday.
Instead, it was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal bracketing President Obama’s speeches on Portman’s home turf.
Though Romney didn’t deploy Portman Thursday, some Republicans said it was hardly a barometer for his V.P. chances — and that Portman’s low profile could be by design.
“Look, Portman’s strength is that he doesn’t upset the apple cart,” said one Romney adviser not involved in the vetting process. “It sounds backwards, but the less you hear about him, the better it may be for his vice presidential prospects.”
The Romney campaign did not respond to requests for comment on why Portman, who joined Romney on his own bus tour in Ohio last month, was not part of the bracketing effort in the Midwest state on Thursday. The campaign has been tight lipped about Romney’s deliberations over his running mate, seeking to temper speculation in Washington about his
Yet, Romney is looking for a no-drama running mate after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin turned off so many independent voters four years ago.
Rather than a brilliant orator, Portman has ample Washington connections and unquestioned policy chops that would cause few to doubt his readiness for the White House.
Still, Portman’s anonymity has its drawbacks if Romney is looking to excite the GOP
For example, a new CNN/ORC International poll found that 62 percent of respondents had never heard of Portman, and a recent Quinnipiac University survey showed that even 59 percent of Ohio voters did not know enough about the senator to form an opinion.