In the constant guessing game over Mitt Romney’s running mate, Ohio U.S. senator Rob Portman appears to be the current front runner.
Since June, the horse race for the vice presidential slot has broken into three groups: the frontrunner, the middle of the pack, and the long shots.
As any race fan will tell you, the frontrunner coming into the final stretch of the race often doesn’t cross the finish line first.
Portman has reportedly met extensively with the Romney campaign in recent days. He has extensive experience in Washington and he is highly regarded by the Romney team.
In fact, Portman told ABC News on Tuesday he met with the Romney campaign six times in a single day to talk about strategy in Ohio.
Portman has always been at the top of the media’s short list for Romney’s running mate.
In past months, the media has pegged the race as Portman vs. Marco Rubio, Portman vs. Tim Pawlenty, or Portman vs. Bobby Jindal, with a few long-shot candidates in the mix.
The buzz over Portman is centered over the presidential contest in Ohio. The Buckeye State played a decisive role in the 2004 and 2008 election, and somehow, it seems to be bigger in the 2012 election.
President Barack Obama’s pre-emptive strike over immigration helped his chances in Florida, the other traditional major swing state, and it seemingly diminished the chances of Marco Rubio joining the Romney ticket.
Rubio’s views on immigration clash with Romney’s current position, but he will be an effective campaigner for Romney in Florida. The consensus is that Rubio, 41, needs more experience on the national stage.
In June, Pawlenty seemed to be the favorite to become the vice presidential nominee, but as the poll numbers rolled in from Florida and Ohio, the shift has focused to Portman.
Pawlenty is an effective campaigner for Romney, but he isn’t that well-known outside the Midwest.
Recent polls show Florida as a toss-up between Obama and Romney, and Ohio as starting to move into the Obama camp, after a series of TV attack ads.
Losing Ohio could be a fatal blow for the Romney campaign, and having a running mate from Ohio (Portman) compared with Minnesota (Pawlenty) could be a factor.
Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, would help Romney with evangelicals and conservatives. However, a candidate from Louisiana wouldn’t help Romney in Ohio.
And then there are the three long shots who are often mentioned in the media.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wowed Romney’s donors at a campaign event in Utah in June, and she’s made a few public appearances since then.
But as a career diplomat and academic, Rice says she’s not interested in the vice presidential job. Coming from a career politician, that statement wouldn’t mean much. But coming from Rice, there’s more weight to her claim.
In addition to Rice, there’s the favorite of Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News folks: combative New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Christie can’t keep from making news. He also has repeatedly denied interest in the vice presidential slot.
Finally, there is New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is a newcomer and well-liked by the Romney campaign. She’s not a national name, but she’s in the same approximate media position as Sarah Palin was in 2008.
Also in the mix are John Thune from South Dakota and Paul Ryan from Wisconsin.
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