July 9, 2012

TOO NORMAL FOR THE JOB:

Will It Be Portman? : The Ohio senator's presser feeds the buzz. (Robert Costa, 7/09/12, National Review)

 It took Rob Portman five years to graduate from Dartmouth College. He switched majors twice, and he was rarely a habituĂ© of Baker Memorial Library. Instead, Portman was a devoted outdoorsman. He spent hours on the slopes and even more on the water. For the skinny, long-haired teenager from Cincinnati, the Connecticut River's strong currents were a refreshing diversion from Ivy League academia. The river's rapids were also a training course. By 1977, Portman's third year, he and some friends won a grant to kayak the entire length of the Rio Grande, from its source in southern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. They packed their bags, left Hanover, N.H., and headed west. For the next six months, Portman paddled, huddled with locals in off-the-grid Texas towns, and generally lived the life of a frugal nomad. He also perfected his Spanish, which he still speaks fluently. Portman eventually graduated in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, but as he told me earlier this year, his best times were on a boat.

Portman, now a freshman Republican senator from Ohio, returned to the Connecticut River this past Saturday. He spent much of the day in a canoe, gliding past his old haunts. The official reason for the summer visit to his alma mater was familial: His 17-year-old daughter, Sally, was taking a tour of the school, one of four colleges she visited over the weekend. Yet this afternoon on the river was more than a jaunt down memory lane. It was, as ever, a fresh-air escape, this time from another sort of stuffiness: the vice-presidential sweepstakes. 

Posted by at July 9, 2012 5:41 PM
  

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