Rob Portman defends Romney over Bain attacks

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman defended Mitt Romney against Democratic charges that he was a "job destroyer" during his tenure at Bain Capital, insisting the presumptive Republican nominee has a "pretty good" record of creating jobs.

Speaking at a lunch sponsored by Bloomberg View in Manhattan, Portman, who has frequently been mentioned as a possible Romney running mate, defended the former Massachusetts governor against charges that he profited off the closing of a Missouri steel company. President Barack Obama's re-election campaign issued these attacks in a new ad.

Portman suggested the steel industry's woes—not Bain's desire to seek profits—were to blame for the company's 2001 bankruptcy. (Romney left Bain in 1999.)

"That wasn't a Bain issue," Portman said. "It was a national economic issue. Steel companies were in trouble."

And he defended Romney's record at Bain, suggesting he was simply engaged in "capitalism."

"Maybe I am missing something, but that is capitalism," Portman said. "It's the free market."

Romney, he said, can point to "where his efforts created 100,000-plus jobs."

"That's pretty good," Portman said.

But Portman wasn't so forthcoming around speculation that he might be picked as Romney's running mate. Asked if he would be "honored" to be chosen as Romney's VP, Portman said he believes he would be "better suited" to remaining in the Senate.

"I was just elected," Portman said, with a coy smile. "Ohio voters expect me to serve out my term."

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