Rob Portman Rules Out 2016 Presidential Run

He will run for another Senate term in two years instead, he says.

Senator Rob Portman speaks at a Bloomberg News event on July 10, 2014.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Ohio Senator Rob Portman says he will not run for president in 2016, narrowing down the field of Republicans vying to take on likely Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“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,” Portman in a statement on Tuesday. “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 was considered a contender to be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. Speaking to Cleveland.com about his decision on Monday, Portman “sidestepped” questions about taking the vice-presidential nomination if chosen in two years. He said Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush would be “strong” candidates, the Associated Press reported.

Portman cited tax reform as one issue he plans to focus on when Republicans take control of the Senate next year, saying in the statement that “we now have the chance to fix the out-of-date, uncompetitive tax code.” In addition to his background on budget and tax issues—he served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush—he is known for his support for gay marriage, a rare stance among high-profile Republicans. He announced it in 2013 after his son Will came out.

A Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in October showed that Portman had a long way to go in terms of name recognition in the key presidential state. Nine percent of those polled gave him a favorable rating, while 81 percent said they were not sure how to rate him. 

Portman acknowledged the work he would have had to put in there. “I would be in Iowa and New Hampshire rather than being here [in Washington] if I was running for president,” he told Cleveland.com. “In fact, this weekend I would be in Des Moines rather than in Columbus and Sandusky and Morrow County.”

Michael C. Bender contributed to this report.

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