CONCORD, N.H. — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, one of Mitt Romney's potential running mates, says he has "no plans" to meet with the presumptive Republican nominee on a swing through New England this weekend.
Portman, who is speaking at a New Hampshire Republican Party fundraiser Saturday night and fundraisers for the Romney victory effort on Monday, said he has not and will not meet with Romney — nor would he comment on whether he is being vetted.
Portman, a Dartmouth alumnus accompanying his daughter on a college tour, went to bat for Romney on health care reform, saying “this notion that somehow President Obama and Gov. Romney have similar positions on healthcare is ridiculous — they couldn't be farther apart."
"They are not only very different laws, but one is at the state level and one is at the federal level," he said, unasked, about the differences between the two bills.
"It’s not up to me, it’s up to the Supreme Court and it’s a tax," Portman added about the Affordable Care Act, addressing an issue that has dogged both the Obama and Romney campaigns for more than a week.
Asked if he thought his time serving in the Bush administration would be a political liability should he be selected to run with Romney, Portman replied "I don't know," before launching into a long defense of his record.
"I served there at the Office of Management and Budet and as the US Trade Representative at a time when we had a strong economy and deficits that we would die for today. They were about 1/6 of the size they are today — maybe 1/7...I was able to propose a balanced budget not over 10 years, but over 5 years and I was able to do that because President Bush was able to make some tough decisions and also because we had economic growth. Unemployment, 4 to 5 percent. We had the possibility there of getting American back on track. So I'm proud of that record."
As for the college he's hoping his daughter will select, he replied, "the cheapest."