Interview: Rob Portman does not rule out a presidential run

Patrick Howley Political Reporter

Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman refused to rule out a 2016 presidential run in an interview Tuesday with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“Have you ruled out running for president yourself in 2016?” Hewitt asked.

“You know, Hugh, I am focused on one thing right now, and that is 2014. And as you may know, I’m the vice chair, the national finance chair, for this effort to take back the Senate for the Republicans, because I really believe that is the best thing we can do for the country right now. And if we don’t do it, I think we’re in deep trouble. So to be frank with you, I haven’t really given it serious consideration, because I’m totally focused on getting this majority,” Portman said.

Hewitt chidingly accused Portman of not making a “Shermanesque statement.”

“Well, look, it’s not something that I am considering right now. I’m considering focusing on my job as a senator and Ohio, and then second, trying to be sure that we are successful in 2014,” Portman replied.

“I’ll try and land the plane one more time,” Hewitt ventured.

“Well, you know, I purposefully haven’t put myself on the list, and I don’t think there’s a deadline in particular, but the way these things go, Hugh, it seems like the election starts sooner and sooner. And frankly, that, I think, does not serve the American people well. … And yet here we are talking about, you know, is it going to be Hillary Clinton or is it going to be somebody else, or what’s the latest with regard to the presidential candidates on the Republican side. I think it’s kind of premature,” Portman said.

Portman is the Republican party’s designated sparring partner for presidential debate preparations. He played Al Gore in 2000 preparations for George W. Bush and Barack Obama for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Follow Patrick on Twitter