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Dec 2, 2014 9:17 AM

Paul Steinhauser: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman not running for White House in 2016

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

WASHINGTON DC - Strike Sen. Rob Portman's name from the list of potential presidential contenders.

The Republican from Ohio announced early Tuesday that he's running in 2016, for re-election to his Senate seat, and won't be making a bid for the White House.

With Republicans winning control of the Senate in last month's midterm elections, Portman said in a statement with the new Republican majority, I see a real opportunity over the next two years to break the gridlock in Washington and actually get things done to help Ohioans and all Americans. That's where I believe I can play the most constructive role."

"I don't think I can run for president and be an effective senator at the same time," Portman added.

"While I appreciate the encouragement I have received from many to run for president, my focus will remain on Ohio and running for re-election to the Senate in 2016. I look forward to formally announcing my re-election campaign in the new year."

Portman's Granite State visits

Portman made two trips to New Hampshire during the 2014 campaign season, to help GOP Senate nominee Scott Brown. But the visits to the first-in-the-nation primary state sparked speculation that Portman was considering a presidential bid.

If he had run for the Republican nomination in 2016, experience wouldn't have be an issue for him. Portman spent 12 years in the House of Representatives before serving as U.S. trade representative and then budget director under President George W. Bush. And thanks to his stint as finance chairman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee the past two years, Portman has strong connections and relationships with many of his party's top donors. But the man who came very close to being Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012 suffers when it comes to national name recognition.

In an interview in Hampstead in October with NH1, Portman said he was thinking of running, but that it would be a crowded field for the GOP nomination, and that he would have been considered a longshot.

"I am going to take a look at it, but I'm sure a lot of other people will too. It's going to be competitive," Portman said.

But even though he's not going to run for President, it's very likely that Portman will return to New Hampshire soon. His daughter's a student at Dartmouth College.

Ayotte reacts

Portman is a colleague and a friend to fellow Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

New Hampshire's Republican senator reacted to Portman's news Tuesday morning, telling NH1 that "I have a lot of respect for Rob Portman. He certainly would have been a very good candidate for President, given his resume and experience. But I'm glad he's going to continue to serve in the United States Senate and he is someone who really has a lot of expertise, on the economic state of the country, and also on how to create a better economic environment for job creation."


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