Ohio Senator Rob Portman - seen by some corners of the Right as an overwhelmingly "safe" choice for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's Vice President - may have just done something very risky indeed.
In speaking to ABC News Wednesday, Portman seemed to inadvertently let slip that he had been engaged in several "intense" meetings with Romney campaign advisers, including Beth Myers, the woman who is widely known to be influencing the selection process. The meetings reportedly lasted six hours, each lasting a single hour. Portman reportedly said this:
"You know, I talk to those guys all the time on how things are going in Ohio and what the message ought to be back home in Ohio, so it was a good-good day."
Portman has since doubled back and said the meetings had nothing to do with vetting. ABC has updated its story, and Portman aides claim the meetings were purely financial in nature. Beyond that, we can only speculate.
Nevertheless, if Portman is truly on the short list, and many believe he is, then he comes into the election a strong second fiddle for Romney. Indeed, Portman's own election history is highly encouraging for Republicans - he won election to Ohio's vacant Senate seat in 2010 by double digit margins against a committed progressive Democrat, Lee Fisher. Portman's success was partially aided by a series of superb debate performances against Democratic candidate Lee Fisher - debates that were described by your humble author in the pages of National Review this way:
Rob Portman savaged Lee Fisher, to the point that even some of the lefty blogs in the state expressed admiration for Portman’s poise and preparation. It’s obvious that his experience preparing presidents for debates has paid off, whereas Fisher came off as a person with virtually nothing to talk about as far as an agenda (other than a few platitudes).[...]
Nice guys finish last. This debate is no exception.
Switch out the name "Fisher" with the name "Biden" and you'll probably have a good idea of what will happen come this year's debates, if Portman is the Veep. Consider this video: