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Portman claims endorsement in re-election bid

Engstrom: Choice between senator, Strickland 'crystal clear'

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U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) claimed the endorsement today of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his bid for re-election against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. The endorsement was made at an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event in Columbus by Chamber Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom.

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COLUMBUS — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) claimed the endorsement today of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his bid for re-election against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

The endorsement was made at an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event in Columbus by Chamber Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom.

Meanwhile, Democrats doubled down on Mr. Portman’s reported absence from 72 percent of hearings of the Homeland Security committee, contending he found time on those same days to hold or attend political fund-raisers.

Besides being valuable for influencing voters, the chamber endorsement likely will also trigger financial contributions to Mr. Portman’s campaign. In 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce political action committee gave $8,500 to Mr. Portman’s first Senate campaign, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Mr. Engstrom said that the choice between Mr. Portman and Mr. Strickland is “crystal clear.”

“Rob Portman is a tested and proven champion for American Free Enterprise. Leadership matters, and we appreciate his 91 percent rating with the U.S. Chamber,” Mr. Engstrom said. "Former Governor Ted Strickland has a record of failure in Columbus and Washington that he is struggling to defend. Whether it's the 350,000 jobs lost during his tenure as governor, the soaring unemployment, $8 billion budget hole, or Ohio’s rank as 48th in job creation, Ted Strickland will be held accountable by Ohio voters. Again."

Mr. Portman, a former Cincinnati-area congressman who also served as President George W. Bush’s trade representative and budget director, said, “Voters have a choice in this election between my pro-growth policies for better wages and more jobs or a return to former Governor Ted Strickland’s failed policies of higher taxes, burdensome regulations, and bigger government.”

He said Mr. Strickland didn’t pass a single bill into law and ranked as one of the most inefficient and most absent members of Congress, while Mr. Portman said he has passed more than 45 bills into law.

In their criticism of Mr. Portman’s attendance record in the Senate, the Ohio Democratic Party noted that some of the hearing dates of Homeland Security occurred on days when Mr. Portman had fund-raising events on his schedule.

“The more we learn about Senator Portman’s refusal to attend the vast majority of his Homeland Security hearings, the worse it gets,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten.

The Portman campaign said four of the six fundraising events occurred in the evening, while the Homeland Security meetings occurred at 11 a.m., and that there was no conflict between the two scheduled events. One meeting occurred at noon in New York on a day when Congress wasn’t in session and Mr. Portman was not in Washington, according to the campaign’s account. One fundraiser occurred at 8:30 a.m. on the same day as a meeting that was attended by only three senators in a subcommittee.

Campaign manager Corry Bliss said Mr. Portman’s schedule showed that he was conducting official business at the times of five of the six missed meetings.

The Portman campaign said Mr. Portman is on 12 committees and when he can’t attend a meeting he sends staff and then is briefed by them afterward.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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