Sen. Rob Portman: "It's Not about Sizzle for Me"

Posted: May 02, 2012 2:49 PM

There has been much ado about the very real possibility of a Romney-Portman GOP ticket, but of course, both Gov. Romney and Sen. Portman suffer the constant slings of arrows of being too "vanilla," "boring," "WASP-y," etcetera, especially from the media-and-entertainment industry -- the other night, Stephen Colbert dubbed the potential pairing as "the bland leading the bland." But, considering the situation in which we've landed ourselves by electing our young, edgy, Barry-from-the-block as celebrity-in-chief... I don't think "lacking charisma" exactly tops many people's lists of presidential deal-breakers right now.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) responded Tuesday to a recent skit where Stephen Colbert mocked a potential Mitt Romney-Portman ticket as "the bland leading the bland," telling Fox News that he saw himself as a "serious legislator" and politics wasn't "about sizzle."

"My kids love that. I'd like to think I'm a serious legislator and trying to get things done," said Portman in an interview for Fox News's "Running with Romney" series. "You know, that's my goal in life — to get things done. It's not about sizzle for me."

The Republican senator from Ohio has a solidly conservative record, bringing plenty of wonkish experience and some swing-state influence to the table. Perhaps the ostensibly unobtainable intelligence and cringe-inducing 'cool factor' of our current president has left a poor enough taste in Americans' mouths to incline the towards someone of a more steady, capable nature -- someone who'll cut through the relentless campaign-nonsense instead of adding to it. Dorothy Rabinowitz argues as much about Mitt Romney in the WSJ:

From all corners of the commentariat, advisers friendly and unfriendly have declared it time for Mitt Romney to reveal himself—to let go at last and show the real Mitt he's allegedly been keeping secret. A fetching notion, but not the kind that wins elections. Forget the real Romney. Voters looking for a victory over Barack Obama would settle for the Romney on hand—the only real one, and unlikely to get any more so—as long as he's equipped for the requirements of the battle ahead.

It would help if he showed, first of all, a capacity to run a campaign not obviously dependent on the latest polls, or the fears of consultants. He could begin by ignoring the chorus of hysterics agonizing over the gender gap, then proceed to comport himself like a presidential candidate who grasps that women see themselves as citizens like any other—not as a separate group assigned victim status, to be favored with special tenderness. ...

Most voters with any sense—this will perhaps exclude a fair number of the screamers in the late-night studio audiences—will understand that the candidate isn't one of them, not even close. That voters in their right minds don't choose a candidate for president because they've had the privilege of seeing him look unspeakably absurd while engaging in obsequious exchanges with late-night hosts.