Portman Rises on GOP Veep List

Former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, most recently director of the Office of Management and Budget, is being suggested as one of the top picks whom John McCain should consider for a vice presidential running mate.

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Former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, most recently director of the Office of Management and Budget, is being suggested as one of the top picks whom John McCain should consider for a vice presidential running mate.

Despite some recently critical opinion pieces on Portman, Republicans advising the McCain campaign said that Portman offers key domestic and economic policy expertise, youth, and deep roots in Ohio that could help McCain in the fall election.

"He could help McCain carry Ohio," said one outside adviser, who also dismissed previous suggestions that Republicans like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist top the vice presidential list. Meanwhile, McCain advisers are still working on their vice presidential search plan and are eager to use it to make news as each candidate is interviewed, somewhat like President Bush did leading up to selecting Dick Cheney. The advisers believe that McCain can use individual candidates to show voters and the media what he's looking for in a partner, with a high priority being youth, energy and an unconventional spirit. He also is interested in those not in politics who have a "recognizable personal success story to tell," said an adviser.

"He will think of outside-the-box ideas," said the adviser, who suggested names like former Hewlett-Packard boss Carly Fiorina, now a McCain fundraiser at the Republican National Committee.

—Paul Bedard