Conventions 2012

Portman to Play Obama in Romney Debate Prep

Short-listed: Portman could be the GOP pick for vice president — or NRSC chair.
National Journal
Aug. 27, 2012, 1:55 p.m.

BO­STON — Sen. Rob Port­man, R-Ohio, will play the role of Pres­id­ent Obama in de­bate prac­tice ses­sions with soon-to-be Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney, the Rom­ney cam­paign said.

Port­man, who was on Rom­ney’s short list of po­ten­tial vice pres­id­en­tial run­ning mates, was asked earli­er this sum­mer to help the can­did­ate pre­pare for the de­bates and has been giv­en brief­ing ma­ter­i­als by the cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to CNN, which first re­por­ted the story.

Port­man has long been a fa­vor­ite of Re­pub­lic­an strategists and can­did­ates for his abil­ity to ef­fect­ively morph in­to Demo­crats in re­hears­al after he stud­ies hours of video­tape and brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. In the past, he has played Al Gore for former Pres­id­ent George W. Bush, John Ed­wards for former Vice Pres­id­ent Dick Cheney, and in 2008, Barack Obama for GOP nom­in­ee John Mc­Cain.

CBS News re­por­ted earli­er this month that Rep. Chris Van Hol­len, D-Md., a fre­quent polit­ic­al foe of vice pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin, will play Ry­an in de­bate prep for Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee, will play Rom­ney in Obama’s de­bate prep.

It is still a mys­tery who will play Biden for Ry­an, but in 2008, the role was played by then-vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee Sarah Pal­in’s for­eign-policy ad­viser, Randy Sch­eun­e­mann.

The pres­id­en­tial de­bates will be held on Oct. 3 in Den­ver, Oct. 16 in Hemp­stead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla. The vice pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates will de­bate on Oct. 11 in Dan­ville, Ky.

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