Why not Senator Rob Portman in the Veepstakes?

Real Clear Politics is reporting today that Mitt Romney’s short list in the Veepstakes is down to four, one of which is Ohio Senator Rob Portman.  The Kentucky Post reported this week:

“And with Ohio expected to be another crucial battleground state, Portman is widely speculated to be a potential vice presidential pick for Romney.

“The senator has made many high-profile appearances in recent weeks, including several campaign stops with Romney when the candidate blazed through Ohio on a bus tour last month.

“Portman also traveled to Israel in May to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a trip that has practically become a must-stop for rising politicians.

“A former budget director in the George W. Bush administration, Portman was elected to the Senate in 2010 with 57% of the vote and continues to hold a reputation as a popular GOP lawmaker.”

If you watch Fox News for more than five minutes, you’ll hear a GOP pundit shilling for Portman, sounding like he’s the next Reagan.  On Tuesday, I heard two of them in an hour-long Hannity episode (hosted by Tucker Carlson). Tom Bevan, author of Election 2012 thinks Portman would be a great VP and David Brody, author of The Teavangelicals really stretched this thing into a pretzel to try to convince us that conservatives are behind Portman:

“There are folks that believe, within  the evangelical community that Rob Portman actually isn’t such a bad pick. I mean, a lot of people think bland, vanilla, but within the evangelical community there’s kind of a split on that so it just depends on that. “

Of course,  I don’t know a single evangelical who feels this way (anecdotal, I know, but so is Brody’s statement, I suspect).  And then there’s the fact that Portman’s name recognition here in Ohio is likely lower than Joe the Plumber’s assistant.

But the real problem is Portman’s record. The reason Romney is likely enamored with Portman is that he’s about as conservative as Romney.

The Club for Growth rates him at #29 in the Senate, tied with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), with an 80% score in 2011 and an 80% lifetime score.  For comparison, Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul have a 100% score and Sen. Marco Rubio is at 97%.  He scored a dismal 69% on Heritage Action’s scorecard, south of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Here are some examples of votes that should cause us to oppose Portman as the VP choice (thanks to the excellent research of the Medina Tea Party Patriots):

§  Senator Portman supported debt ceiling increases.

§  Senator Portman supported the failed Gang of 6 plan.

§  Senator Portman refused to speak out against the appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). [Senator Portman went even further by emailing a letter that indicates support for Cordray, had the CFPB been restructured with more oversight. Senator Portman’s email that stated “I had a good meeting with Rich and I am glad a fellow Ohioan was nominated.

§  Senator Portman supported the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

§  Senator Portman served on the failed Deficit Reduction Committee (Super Committee).

§  Senator Portman has refused to take a stance on the Law of the Sea Treaty.

§  Senator Portman, speaking about Senator Dick Lugar’s defeat at the hands of the Tea Party groups in Indiana, stated, “Obviously in a Republican primary a more conservative candidate can articulate the issues and sometimes has an advantage and that was the case there,” Portman said. “Look, maybe I’m naïve about this, but it’s not so much about ideology as it is about a willingness to find a result.

But perhaps you’re an optimist and your confidence in Portman has been buoyed by the fact that he voted against the massive Omnitranspostudentcarp Bill last week.  From Portman’s press release:

“I had hoped to be able to support the transportation funding bill today because I believe we should give our states, municipalities and private sector more certainty on their important infrastructure funding.

“Unfortunately, however, I could not support today’s transportation bill because at a time of record debt and deficits, it breaks the budget agreement Congress established just last year.  American families are making the tough decisions necessary to live within their means during this time of soaring spending and record debt, and Congress must do the same.  We must lead by example and stop spending money we do not have.”

Ah, music to a conservative Red Stater’s ears. Surely, he’s seen the light and is becoming one of us. The Asian Carp has changed his gills, right?

Not so much.

On the same day he issued the press release explaining why he couldn’t vote for the Transportation Bill, he issued another press release grandstanding about how was able to load it up with pork that benefits Ohio…how he fought for the Asian Carp eradication plan:

“Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to stop Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes’ ecosystem passed both houses of Congress today and is now poised to become law…

…The Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of comprehensive, bipartisan transportation legislation that must be passed by week’s end to keep the country’s highway trust fund from going broke.  The transportation legislation addresses a wide variety of infrastructure and construction projects across the country.  Both houses of Congress passed the bill on a bipartisan basis today and President Obama has said he will sign it.”

This is the worst kind of political doublespeak and deception. It was obvious that the Senate had enough votes to pass the bill and Portman could vote against it, knowing his Asian carp pork could pass while he had the political cover of voting ‘no’ on the bill, appearing to take a conservative position.

Even worse, this was a backroom deal that wasn’t even debated in the House and Senate. The provision for controlling Asian carp in the Great Lakes was added as a rider – it doesn’t even appear in either the House or Senate version of the bill and was not passed by either house, frustrating Sen. Dan Coates (R-IN), whose state will likely be impacted by new regulations.

If you’re still not convinced that Sen. Portman would be a really bad choice as Mitt Romney’s running mate, take a look at this scary looking bill Portman introduced in the Senate last week. The text of the bill is not yet available, but the description of it should, at minimum, make us wonder if he is drinking the Agenda 21 tea:

Latest Title: A bill to strengthen the role of the United States in the international community of nations in conserving natural resources to further global prosperity and security.
Sponsor: Sen Portman, Rob [OH] (introduced 6/28/2012)      Cosponsors (3)
Latest Major Action: 6/28/2012 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

So, that’s “Why not Sen. Rob Portman in the Veepstakes.”

If Mitt Romney wants to motivate conservatives, Tea Party activists, and evangelicals to work for him in this election, he needs to choose a running mate that is not an insult to their conservative sensibilities. They (we) already suspect his claims of a conservative reformation. He would only further damage his tenuous relationship with this vital source of support with a severe moderate as a VP choice.