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Portman and reporters do the VP dance
Rob Portman's weekly conference call with reporters shows how his every word is being parsed to try to figure out if he'll be Romney's running mate
This story is part of a special series.

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Rob Portman is considered one of the three or four people Mitt Romney is most likely to pick as his running mate. Portman is watching his words on that subject carefully -- and so is everyone else.
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Ohio’s Rob Portman has been on the short list of potential running mates for Mitt Romney for months now. And during just about every one of his weekly conference calls with reporters, he says the same thing. He likes serving Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

But WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that even those kinds of statements are being parsed these days for a sign -- any sign -- of what Portman may know that others do not.

SCHULTZE: Reporters try to read the Portman tea leaves

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Rob Portman is touring a Dannon yogurt factory in western Ohio this week, and he’s happy to list his favorite flavors.

“We’re talking peach, raspberry, blueberry. I can even mix fruit, I can go with a banana-strawberry.”

But reporters on his weekly conference call had to press a lot harder – and got a lot less – when they asked about his chances of becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Jack Torry tried the direct approach.

“You have any plans while you’re at Dannon yogurt to be named vice president or something?

Responded Portman: “ I have plans to sample some of the Dannon yogurt, I can tell you that.”

So Torry made another attempt:

“And you have no plans at this point to be going up to Boston over the weekend?


Next came a question about the call for Gov. Romney to release his tax forms. (Portman says two years is about all other recent presidential candidates have released, and most voters don’t care.)

Then back to the topic of the day. The Plain Dealer’s Steve Koff took another stab.

“To the best of your knowledge has Gov. Romney taken you off the consideration list, have you removed yourself from being considered for the vice presidential spot?”

“Well, I saw your story and I appreciated it. I have been consistent, Steve, in my conversations with you and I think I was consistent yesterday in terms of the fact that I feel fortunate to be here in the United State Senate representing Ohio, we’re working hard for Ohio. I continue to do that.”

Koff’s article shows just how closely Portman’s every word is being watched these days. It was based an interview Portman did with a radio station Wednesday.

To the question of whether it’s still true he wants to continue to serve Ohio in the Senate, Portman had quipped, “It is maybe even truer.” 

And that’s all it took for headlines and pundits to announce that Portman “may be bowing out of contention” for vice president.

 But Portman, on this weekly call, wasn’t taking the bait. He ended the vice presidential part of his conference call as he usually does: 

“I just don’t address that stuff. I’ve left that up to the campaign to talk about if they want to.”

Related WKSU Stories

Portman helps open Romney campaign headquarters to mixed reviews
Monday, June 11, 2012

Ohio's Portman remains mum on VP hopes
Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ohio's Portman is on Romney's GOP star-studded guest list
Thursday, June 21, 2012

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