Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, in a 13-minute speech before the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, blistered the Obama administration for its economic policies and got personal while talking about it.
The American dream of building a business and succeeding, Portman told a packed house at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, "is a dream I have seen up close."
The freshman senator from Ohio told the story of his late father, Bill Portman, who founded the Portman Equipment Co. decades ago with next to nothing and built into a successful company that "now has 200 families depending on it for a living."
"About a year after the Obama administration began, I asked my dad if he would have done it again,'' Portman said. "He said, "I don't know if I would do it again today.'''
That, Portman said, is due to the investment and job stifling policies "from another candidate who believes that success comes from government."
Portman got some laughter from the crowd early on in his speech when he mentioned the speculation that was rampant this spring and summer that the freshman senator from Ohio - who held cabinet level positions in the administration of President George W. Bush - might be chosen as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate.
"They say I was on Mitt Romney's short list of vice presidents,'' Portman said. "Apparently it was a very short list."
Democrats, Portman said, "love to demonize Mitt Romney's experience in the private sector. In fact, he built a business, created a lot of jobs, and, yes, he made a lot of money."
With Romney's experience and Obama's belief in government as a job creator, Portman asked the crowd in the arena "with which one would you invest your life savings?"
Obama, Portman said, has failed in any attempts at reaching a bipartisan consensus with Republicans in Congress.
"The president submitted a budget and it was so bad that not a single Republican and not a single Democrat voted for it,'' Portman said. "That is a failure of leadership."
The Ohio delegation area in front of the podium was packed during Portman's speech; and they enthusiastically waved signs and cheered their home state hero.
Hamilton County commissioner Greg Hartmann said it was "a great speech."
"Rob is exactly what the Republican Party should be,'' Hartmann said."He's reasonable. He understands the issues. Unlike President Obama, he understands that creating government jobs is not enough. Government jobs don't bring in revenues; they are an expense."
Brad Wenstrup, the Columbia Tusculum Republican who is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat, said "it was good seeing an energized Rob Portman on stage."
"My favorite line was the one about who you would trust to invest your life savings,'' Wenstrup said. "That puts it in clear, simple terms for people."
Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern put out a statement saying Portman "advocated for Mitt Romney and the Go Back Team to return America to the same Bush policies that gave tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, outsourced jobs from Ohio and helped cause the recession.