Senate Guru: OH-Sen: Rob Portman = George W. Bush

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

It is said that the 2008 Presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain was as much a referendum on George W. Bush’s administration, policies, and failures as it was a referendum on either of the major Party nominees. In 2010, for most midterm races, George W. Bush will be a distant memory. However, the race in which George W. Bush and the harmful effects of his agenda will be most front-and-center will be the U.S. Senate race in Ohio.

The Republican nominee is expected to be Rob Portman, who spent twelve years representing Ohio’s 2nd Congressional district, in the Cincinnati suburbs. More important on his resume, though, are his two roles in George W. Bush’s administration: U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In short, Portman was George W. Bush’s trade chief and budget boss; and, perhaps no state has been hurt more by Bush’s trade and budget policies than Ohio. In Bush’s final year in office, only a small minority of Ohioans (just 26%) approved of Bush’s handling of the economy. Rob Portman was one of the chief architects of the Bush economy of which Ohioans so overwhelmingly disapproved, and Ohio voters will have the opportunity to thank Portman for his role.

In January, I offered a thorough look at Portman’s close relationship to George W. Bush. From Portman’s leadership on CAFTA (which so many Ohio labor unions opposed) to Portman’s support for Bush’s plan to privatize social security to Portman’s intimate role in Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, George W. Bush had fewer sidekicks more loyal than Rob Portman.

I’m glad to see that the Ohio Democratic Party and the DSCC are making the centerpiece of their opposition Portman’s close ties to George W. Bush and Portman’s role in perpetuating the Bush economy that was so destructive to so many Ohio families.

At, the Ohio Democratic Party has put up a website highlighting Portman’s leadership role on Bush’s failed economic policies. They do a strong job, both textually and visually, of pointing out that Portman is a Bush Republican, and that Bush’s policies very much are Portman’s policies.

Rob Portman = George W. Bush

Portman is doing himself no favors in the messaging department when he labels himself the consummate Washington D.C. insider:

In a political world where candidates are falling all over themselves to tout their “outsider” credentials, Rob Portman is a rare exception to the rule.

Portman, a former Congressman and Bush Administration official, is casting himself as a deal-making insider in his campaign for the seat being vacated by Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010 — portraying his resume as just the sort of thing that will help him get things done in Washington.

“I know enough now about where the bodies are buried [and] how the Senate works that I know I can be effective there for Ohio,” Portman said during a recent interview with the Fix as part of our “Rising” series.

The DSCC has made Portman’s comments and Portman’s role as a key George W. Bush sidekick the focal point of a terrific web video:

To ensure that George W. Bush and the harm that his economic policies caused Ohio do not become memories too distant to Ohioans, I’ll repeat a suggestion I made back in January:

Can I suggest that, before George W. Bush becomes too distant a memory, the Ohio Democratic Party should print up some simple “Rob Portman = George W. Bush” bumper stickers and circulate them. Cement that message early.

And why stop at bumper stickers? The Ohio Democratic Party or Ohio labor unions should buy some highly visible billboard space and put up the message “Rob Portman: Architect of George W. Bush’s Economy” now that the according website is running.

Whether or not George W. Bush is still in office, Rob Portman is very much a George W. Bush Republican, and Bush should serve as an anchor to Portman throughout the campaign if Democrats continue to effectively highlight the extremely close Bush-Portman relationship.

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