And it comes as no surprise that three of Romney’s top campaign surrogates and potential running mates are from the upper Midwest – starting with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a former George W. Bush budget director. The others are Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“[Senator Portman] is worth three to five points in Ohio,” says Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett, who has been talking up his state’s junior senator with Romney. “Independents like Portman. And Democrats don’t get mad at him.”
Rare is the running mate who can swing a state, but in a battleground as tight as Ohio, every vote matters. Four years ago, Obama won the state by just 4.6 percentage points, even as he was winning Wisconsin by 14 points and Michigan by 16. This year, his margins are down everywhere.