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Monday, August 27, 2012

Portman to Reprise Obama Role for Romney Debate Preparation


TAMPA, Fla. â€" It's time for Senator Rob Portman to dust off those old Obama audiobooks again. He has been tapped to reprise his role of playing President Obama to help Mitt Romney prepare for his debates.

Mr. Portman, an Ohio Republican, was once a contender to be Mr. Romney's running mate. But he agreed to help Mr. Romney get ready for three October debates. The first practice session is likely to be this weekend, aides said, followed by at least a half-dozen other rehearsals.

Impersonating Democrats to help Republicans prepare for debates has become something of a specialty for Mr. Portman. He has played the role of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore and Barack Obama.

His willingness to help Mr. Romney was not unexpected, aides said, even though it could be seen as the political equivalent of always being a bridesmaid but never a bride. Several senior Republicans believed that Mr. Portman would be a strong vice-presidential candidate.

Mr. Portman, who is speaking here at the Republican National Convention, has agreed to be at Mr. Romney's disposal over the next two months to help with debate sessions that are expected to take place near Mr. Romney's homes in New Hampshire and California. CNN first reported Mr. Portman's role.

In an interview this summer, Mr. Portman explained how he prepared to play the role of Mr. Obama four years ago to help Senator John McCain.
“I read his book. I did the audiotape because I wanted to hear his voice. I listened to the entire book,” Mr. Portman said. “It was helpful to get his cadence.”