Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, rumored to be on Mitt Romney's short list of possible vice presidential picks, said Thursday that the race for his state's electoral votes will be "close," but that having his name on the ballot "won't be necessary" for Republicans to take the state in November.
Speaking to reporters after addressing a kickoff luncheon for the 2012 Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., Portman predicted that a worsening economy in Ohio could swing the state for Romney.
"I think it will be a close race. It always is. We're a swing state. We're not blue, we're not red, we're kind of purple," Portman told a group of reporters. "I think it will depend on a lot of issues, but I think ultimately it will depend on where the economy is. And unfortunately the economy's not doing well, not doing again what the president said it is, and second, who's got the best plan for the future?"
Ohioans have voted for the winning nominee in every presidential election since 1964, and polls this year indicate that the state is very closely divided. In 2004, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by just 2 percentage points in the state, which Barack Obama won in 2008 by 4 percentage points.
It is speculated that the selection of Portman as a running mate would help Romney woo voters in Ohio. Portman has represented the state on and off in Congress since 1993. At this point, however, public opinion polls in Ohio do not show that Portman would provide much of a bump, which he acknowledged on Thursday.
"I don't believe that's necessary," he said when asked if he having his name on the ticket would help Romney beat Obama.
When pressed about whether Romney's campaign had asked him to submit personal or financial information as part of the vice presidential vetting process, Portman declined to say.
"I hate to be boring," he said, "But um, I just don't talk about that."