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Published: Tuesday, 7/31/2012

V.P. speculation draws voters to Portman rally


LANCASTER, Pa. -- At a campaign rally in Lancaster, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman focused his remarks on Mitt Romney and the President Republicans hope to unseat.

But a number of voters said it was the senator from neighboring Ohio -- and reports that he is a leading vice presidential contender -- who drew them to an event for a presidential candidate they already support.

"I just would like to see who Portman is," said Sally Fry, a teacher who lives nearby and was one of about 200 who turned out to the rally. "To see what philosophies and what else he wants to share about his positions because he's a possible vice presidential candidate."

Mr. Portman, elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving in the House and the administration of President George W. Bush, delivered a speech that hewed closely to Mr. Romney's central argument: that the presumptive Republican nominee has the business and governing know-how to turn around an economy mishandled by President Obama. The crowd clapped when he raised, then dismissed the idea that Pennsylvania may have fallen from the list of battleground states after Mr. Obama's 10-point victory in 2008.

"I've got a feeling you're going to prove them wrong," Mr. Portman said. "Pennsylvania voters are common sense, conservative voters. They get it. They know our country's headed in the wrong direction. They know we have an opportunity with Mitt Romney to turn things around, and Pennsylvania's going to come through, isn't it?"

Mr. Portman is not the only subject of vice-presidential speculation deployed by the campaign during Mr. Romney's trip to England, Israel and Poland.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty campaigned in Ohio on Monday, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio addressed a crowd in Des Moines by cell phone on Saturday after airplane trouble prevented him from appearing in person.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Karen Langley and Clara Riger are reporters for the Post-Gazette.

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