The Washington Times - April 26, 2012, 10:17AM

The Obama campaign already has its talking points cued up if presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney chooses Ohio Sen. Rob Portman as his running mate.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina labeled Mr. Portman “an architect of the [George W. Bush administration’s] economic policies” when asked whether his inclusion on the Republican ticket would force the president to campaign harder in the critical state of Ohio. Mr. Portman served as Office of Management and Budget director under Mr. Bush.

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The Obama campaign announced the official start of his campaign during a hastily-called conference call with reporters Wednesday night. On May 5 the president and first lady plan to hold rallies at college campuses in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond to kick off the general-election campaign.

Speculation about Mr. Romney’s choice for a running mate in recent weeks has swirled around Mr. Portman, known as a calm straight-shooter who is respected on both sides of the aisle, as well as more fiery characters such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who chairs the House Budget Committee. Portman supporters say his low-key manner and extensive Washington knowledge would come as a relief after Sen. John McCain’s 2008 choice of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Mr. Messina’s comments show the Obama camp already has the Ohio Republican in their sights. But after the quick response to the suggestion of Mr. Portman as a veep pick, Mr. Messina tried to play down the campaign’s concern.

“Ultimately this will be a contest between the two men at the top of the ticket and their competing philosophies,” Mr. Messina said.