Nearly every Republican holding political office has been considered for Mitt Romney, from Ayotte (Kelly), New Hampshire's new senator, to Zoellick (Robert), Bush's U.S. trade representative and ex-World Bank president.
But the smart odds should be on newly elected Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who just shared a campaign appearance with Romney, for the following five reasons.
1) Capitol Hill experience. Though he has only served as a U.S. senator for only a year and a half, Portman is no stranger to Congress. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for several terms. And though Romney wears his lack of Washington experience like a badge of honor, he's going to need some to know how Capitol Hill works, if he intends to get any initiative passed.
2) Foreign policy experience. As the United States; trade representative under George W. Bush, Portman picked up some valuable international experience that Romney needs. Governors tend to get executive experience, but few lessons on how to handle foreign policy.
3) Long resume. Romney only has four years of political experience at the statewide level, exactly the number of years Obama had in the 2008 election. Portman provides a longer resume to boost the experience factor, and brings more to the table than Sarah Palin did four years ago, or Florida Senator Marco Rubio does today.
4) Swing state address. By having an Ohio zip code, Portman can offer more than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Ohio has more electoral votes than Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, where other touted candidate are from.
5) Problems with other nominees. The trial of Jim Greer has brought up the unpleasant business of the Florida Republican Party credit card, which spells bad news for Rubio. Pawlenty failed to excite during the 2012 primaries. Ayotte doesn't have as much experience. Scott Walker needed a 30:4 spending advantage to avoid being recalled. Condoleezza Rice is too closely associated with unpopular Bush decisions in Iraq.
Portman brings all of these skills to the table, avoids many of the weaknesses of others, and is reputed to be a good debater, which should help him best Joe Biden. Some see him as only a "safe" pick, but that's probably what Romney needs as the election tightens.