Rob Portman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Rob Portman, Ohio Senator, Rob Portman bio

Rob Portman was first elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2010. (Getty)

Rob Portman is the junior senator from Ohio and was successfully elected to his second term. The former U.S. House member was first elected to the Senate in November 2010. His Democratic opponent was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.

The race between Portman and Strickland had started out competitive, but recent polls show that Portman is expected to easily be re-elected. The Associated Press quickly called the race for Portman and Strickland conceded the election.

Prior to his time in the Senate, the 60-year-old Portman represented Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District in the House from 1993 to 2005. He also served as the U.S. Trade Representative from May 2005 to May 2006, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from May 2006 to June 2007.

Here is a look at Portman’s life and career.

1. Portman Was the First Republican Senator to Support Same-Sex Marriage, After His Son Will Came Out as Gay

Rob Portman, Rob Portman Ohio, Ohio Senator


In March 2013, Portman announced in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed that he now supports same-sex marriage. Portman broke from Republican ranks with the announcement, which came two years after his son, Will, told Portman and his wife Jane that his is gay.

Portman wrote:

I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.

When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states in June 2015, Portman praised the ruling.

“The issue of marriage equality is one that divides people of principle, and I understand that,” Portman said. “In 2013, I decided to support marriage equality after I came to understand this issue better in the context of my own family. I can’t help but view today’s Supreme Court decision through that same lens… As a father, I welcome today’s decision.”

2. Portman Stopped Supporting Donald Trump in October & Disagreed With Trump’s Immigration Plan

Rob Portman, Rob Portman Ohio, Ohio Senator


On October 9, Portman announced that he was no longer supporting Donald Trump. As notes, Portman announced that day that he will vote for Mike Pence for President instead.

“While I continue to respect those who still support Donald Trump, I can no longer support him,” Portman said in a statement after the release of a 2005 video of Trump making lewd comments about women. “I continue to believe our country cannot afford a Hillary Clinton presidency. I will be voting for Mike Pence for President.”

However, that wasn’t Portman’s first comment after the tape was released. Initially, he only said that Trump’s comments “were offensive and wrong and he was right to apologize.” A day later, Portman un-endorsed Trump.

“I had hoped to support the candidate my party nominated in the primary process. I thought it was appropriate to respect the millions of voters across the country who chose Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee,” Portman said.

In September, Portman also said he disagreed with Trump’s immigration plans. “I’ve supported immigration reform, but I have not supported the deportations of millions of non-citizens who are here because I don’t think it’s practical and I don’t think it would be humane for a lot of those families,” Portman said.

On December 8, Portman joined Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, by releasing a statement calling on Trump to take a hard-line against Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine and to support NATO. The statement was co-signed by 26 other Senators from both parties and came just before The Washington Post reported that a CIA assessment shows that the agency believes Russia helped Trump become president.

The letter from the senators reads, in part:

“In light of Russia’s continued aggression and repeated refusal to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereign right to choose its own destiny, we also renew our call for the United States to increase political, economic, and military support for Ukraine. This includes defensive lethal assistance as part of a broader effort to help Ukrainians better defend themselves, deter future aggression, and implement key structural reforms. Similarly, we believe that Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea should never be accepted, nor should we lift sanctions imposed on Russia for its behavior in eastern Ukraine until key provisions of the Minsk Agreement are met. Accordingly, U.S. leadership on maintaining such transatlantic sanctions should remain a priority.”

3. Portman Is Pro-Life & Co-Sponsored the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Rob Portman, Rob Portman Ohio, Ohio Senator


On his official website, Portman says he is pro-life and has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life. While in the House, he supported the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

In the Senate, Portman introduced the Child Custody Protection Act in the Senate in 2013. That act would make it illegal to transport a minor across state borders to take advantage of a states without laws requiring parental involvement for a minor to have an abortion.

Last year, he co-sponsored The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization.

According to, Portman has also voted for banning partial-birth abortions, except to save a mother’s life and voted yes on funding for health providers who do not provide abortion information.

4. Portman Voted Against a Measure to Ban People on a Terrorist Watch List From Getting Guns, but Doesn’t Think They Should be Allowed to Buy Guns

Rob Portman, Rob Portman Ohio, Ohio Senator


Although Portman has strong support for the Second Amendment, he told reporters in June that he is not in favor of people on a terrorist watch or no-fly list being able to buy a weapon. However, a week later, Portman voted against a Senate debate on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s measure that would deny “known or suspected terrorists” from buying weapons.

That vote was pounded on by Strickland’s campaign, who released an ad suggesting that Portman approved of selling weapons to terrorists. However, as Politifact notes, that isn’t true at all. After a vote on the debate about Feinstein’s amendment, Portman voted for two different measures proposed by Senators Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn.

Cornyn’s proposal also stopped terrorism suspects from being allowed to buy weapons, but only after a judge had 72 hours to deny the sale. Both proposals from Grassley and Cornyn failed.

“I also do support someone who is on the no-fly list not being able to get a gun. But we need to be sure people are properly on the no-fly list ; the famous example is that Ted Kennedy was on the no-fly list,” Portman said during a debate with Strickland. “And the legislation I supported got the most votes – it was a bipartisan bill – to be able to solve that problem.”

Portman has an A-rating from the National Rifle Association.

5. Portman Was Considered a Vice Presidential Candidate for Mitt Romney in 2012

Rob Portman, Rob Portman Ohio, Ohio Senator

Rob Portman and Mitt Romney in 2012. (Getty)

Since Ohio has remained an important battleground state, Portman was considered as a potential running-mate for Mitt Romney in 2012. However, Romney instead picked Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, who is now the Speaker of the House.

The New York Times reported that Portman was still on the list of potential picks until the last phase. It appeared that he would get the job after he campaigned with Romney repeatedly during the 2012 election.

However, Portman’s lack of name recognition and his close ties to the Bush family were seen as negatives to him landing on the ticket. He served in the Bush administration and Barbara Bush helped him in an early congressional race by recording a radio ad. He was also an associate counsel and head of legislative affairs during George H.W. Bush’s administration.

Despite the rumors that he was being considered for the VP slot, Portman tried to deny it. In August 2012, ABC News reported that Portman heard from Romney himself that he would not be his vice presidential pick.