Rob Portman Biography

U.S. Representative (1955–)
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is an influential Republican politician who served as President George W. Bush's budget chief from 2006 to 2007.


Born in 1955, Rob Portman grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He went to Dartmouth College and then studied law at University of Michigan. In 1993, he won his first election, earning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Portman became a U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush in 2005. He also served as Bush's budget director from 2006 to 2007. In 2010, Portman won his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Early Life

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rob Portman has spent much of his life in the political arena. He has served in two presidential administrations and in Congress. His fiscal conservatism and pro-business ideals may stem from his upbringing. He and his two siblings grew up in the family business, Portman Equipment Company, which blossomed from a small operation to one that employed hundreds of people at one point.

In high school, Portman loved playing baseball. He also developed an interest in politics. "But I wasn't a Democrat or a Republican," Portman later told the National Review. "No one in my family had ever been in politics. My dad thought it was something that got in the way." At Dartmouth College, however, he started to lean to the right. Portman worked on Representative Bill Gradison of Ohio's campaign, and Gradison soon became a mentor of sorts to the young student. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1979, he earned a degree from the University of Michigan School of Law.

Political Career

After working on the 1988 campaign of George H. W. Bush, Portman soon found himself working for the newly elected president. He first served as an associate counsel and then as a deputy assistant in the Office of Legislative Affairs. He then went into private practice as a lawyer for a time before landing his first elected post in 1993. He won a special election to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill a spot vacated by his friend and mentor Bill Gradison.

Portman went to work for another member of the Bush family in 2005. President George W. Bush appointed him the post of U.S. trade representative, and Portman helped craft the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Known for his command of fiscal policy, Portman became the director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2006. After a brief return to private practice, he once again sought public office. Portman had a decisive victory in 2010 in his bid for one of Ohio's Senate seats, winning 57 percent of the vote. Since taking office, he has focused much of his time on the country's debt and economic recovery.

In 2012, Portman threw his support behind Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. He campaigned for Romney during the state's primary race, helping Romney eke out a win over Rick Santorum. While he has downplayed the possibility of becoming Romney's running mate, political pundits think that Portman may be a good candidate for vice president. His extensive legislative experience, financial policy smarts and connection to Ohio—a swing state—would be a strong boost to Romney's presidential bid.

Personal Life

Portman lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife Jane. The couple has been married since 1986, and they have three children. When not engaged in political activities, Portman enjoys going for bike rides.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!