Portman to play Obama in Romney debate prep

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 20: United Staes Senator Rob Portman, R-OH (L), introduces Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), before he spoke about creating jobs and keeping taxes low to employees at Meridian Bioscience on February 20, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
Mark Lyons
Senator Rob Portman, R-OH, introduces Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, on February 20, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mark Lyons

BOSTON - Ohio Sen. Rob Portman 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 presumed Republican nominee 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 Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a frequent political foe of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, will play Ryan in debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will play Romney in Obama's debate prep.

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

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

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