Jan 25, 2021

Sen. Rob Portman Press Conference Transcript January 25: Will Not Run for Reelection

Sen. Rob Portman Press Conference Transcript January 25: Will Not Run for Re-Election
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsSen. Rob Portman Press Conference Transcript January 25: Will Not Run for Reelection

Ohio Senator Rob Portman announced that he will not run for re-election in 2022 on January 25, 2021. Read the transcript of his press briefing here.

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Senator Portman: (00:00)
Good morning.

Speaker 1: (00:18)
Good morning. [inaudible 00:00:04].

Senator Portman: (00:46)
Well, thank you all for being here. I feel very fortunate to have been entrusted by the people of Ohio with the responsibility of representing them in the United States Senate. I’m announcing today that I’ve made a decision not to run again in 2022. Doesn’t mean I’m leaving now. In fact, I’ll have two long years to get a lot done, and I intend to use that time to be very productive. I’ll be the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and I’ve got lots of oversight projects and legislative initiatives I’m eager to get across the finish line. Over the next two years, I look forward to being able to focus all my energy on legislation and challenges our country faces, rather than on campaigning and fundraising. It was not an easy decision, because representing the people of Ohio in the Senate has been a true honor. But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended to do, actually.

Senator Portman: (01:55)
I’ve been in public service now for three years. In the House of Representatives for 12, in the executive branch for about eight years in various different roles in four different administrations and in the United States Senate for the past 10 years. All this time, our family has kept our home in Ohio. So I’ve been doing the commute back and forth from Cincinnati to Washington. Jane and our three children have been 100% supportive, but I’m really looking forward to being home home in Ohio full-time, seeing family and friends more. Getting back to the private sector, being able to be more involved in my community and also in our family business. And I plan to stay very involved in public policy issues. During my service in the Senate, I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for Ohio and for the country. I’ve been consistently named one of the most bi-partisan United States senators.

Senator Portman: (02:54)
I’m proud of that, and I’ll continue to reach out to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground. 82 of my bills were signed into law by President Trump and 68 were signed into law by President Obama. This includes impactful laws to address the drug addiction crisis, like the comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which has saved lives by providing billions in new resources for evidence-based prevention, treatment, and for the first time ever, recovery services. It is laws to confront the horrific crime of human trafficking. Working with trafficking victims, advocates, and law enforcement, my SESTA legislation has allowed victims to seek justice and closed down websites that were trafficking girls and women online. It includes the laws to help workers, legislation that before the pandemic, helped create one of the strongest economies in a generation with significant wage growth for working families and the lowest poverty rate ever recorded.

Senator Portman: (03:57)
I took a leadership role on tax reform and tax cuts, worker retraining, regulatory relief, and permitting reform. All of these played a role in creating an opportunity economy. And by the way, they’re also key to getting our economy back on track. I’ve been a leader on retirement security, technology policy, trade, cyber security, energy efficiency, prisoner re-entry, national parks, stopping China from stealing our technology and more. I’ll continue to focus on those issues. I’ve also constructively worked with my colleague, Senator Sherrod Brown on matters that helped move Ohio forward. I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done. But honestly, it’s gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy issues. And that has contributed to my decision. We live in an increasingly polarized country, where members of both parties are pushed further to the right and further to the left.

Senator Portman: (05:01)
And there are too few people who are actively looking for that common ground. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but it’s a problem that’s gotten worse over the past couple of decades. It’s a tough time to be in public service. For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I’m convinced I can make a difference outside of the Senate, outside of Washington, beyond 2022. In the meantime, I’m hopeful that President Biden will follow through on his inaugural pledge to reach across the aisle. And I’m prepared to work with him and his administration if he does. I was on that bi-partisan Senate call yesterday on the new COVID-19 package. This was a call between a group of us who worked on the previous COVID-19 package, five Republicans, five Democrats, and the administration. I hope the administration will work with us on a more targeted approach that focuses on things like vaccine distribution, testing, and getting kids back to school.

Senator Portman: (06:02)
I want to thank the great people of Ohio, first and foremost for giving me this incredible opportunity to serve. And I look forward to continuing to work hard for them over the next couple of years. I appreciate my friends in every corner of Ohio and across the political spectrum who encouraged me and helped me better represent our diverse state. I thank them for what they do for our communities and for the inspiration they give me.

Senator Portman: (06:29)
I want to thank my amazing staff, both in Ohio and in Washington, DC. They work really hard for the people of Ohio and have enabled me to be much more effective. I know I’m biased, but I really do believe they’re the best team in the Senate and others do as well. Of course, I will always be grateful for the voters of Ohio. For the opportunity to have given me and the fact that they have supported me now in nine elections to the House and the Senate. Thanks to them, I’ve never lost an election. I’ve never won one by less than 18 points. I’m confident that with their support, I could have won again. But for me, the question was whether I wanted to serve an additional six years in the United States Senate. I decided to make my announcement now because I’ve made up my mind, but also because it will allow whichever Republicans choose to run plenty of time to gear up for a statewide race. Finally, and most importantly, a special thanks to Jane and our family.

Senator Portman: (07:37)
They’ve made a lot of sacrifices from my time in public service. And I appreciate them for the unconditional support they’ve given me. Jane, Jed, Sarah, Sally are all here this morning, and I thank them for being here. I also thank Will and Tyler for their well wishes. They couldn’t travel to Cincinnati this morning, but we are a team. We’re a team. In these next two years, I’m going to continue to be very actively engaged, doing my best to provide hope as we try to get through this devastating coronavirus pandemic and doing my best to help bring our great country together. To help us heal so that we can better address the many challenges we face together. Thank you all and I’m happy to take any questions you might have.

Speaker 2: (08:32)
[inaudible 00:08:37].

Senator Portman: (08:43)
Well, I’ve said from the start, as I said in the last impeachment, I’m a juror. So it’s going to happen and as a juror, I’m going to listen to both sides. That’s my job.

Speaker 2: (08:56)
[inaudible 00:08:58].

Senator Portman: (08:58)
Absolutely. Yeah, of course. When you’re in impeachment, that’s all you can do apparently. And you do it six days-

Senator Portman: (09:03)
Of course. I mean, when you’re in impeachment, that’s all you can do apparently and you do it six days a week and both sides will want to put together their arguments. But my understanding is the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, the new leader, has decided he wants to do it, so we’ll be moving forward on it.

Senator Portman: (09:22)
I will be listening, as I said, as a juror, and I’ll be listening to the Constitutionality arguments among other things. As I look at the Constitution, it says that impeachment is for removal and keeping someone from running for office again, not or, so I want to hear those Constitutionality arguments. I think that is a serious issue.

Senator Portman: (09:44)
President Trump has left office he’s down in Florida. Second, I am going to consider among other things what’s best for our country, how to help heal our country. I don’t excuse anything President Trump did on January 6th or the run-up to it. I’ve been highly critical as you know of his comments and actions on that day. But you know, as a juror I’ll be listening to both sides.

Speaker 3: (10:11)
Senator Portman, you said that [inaudible 00:10:15] a lot worse recently than when you entered into politics. How much of that do you think is Trump’s responsibility for raising the heat, the temperature [inaudible 00:10:28]?

Senator Portman: (10:28)
Well, it was pretty hot already, wasn’t it? I don’t think he helped it, but I think about it. I first got involved, I guess back in the late ’70s, that really dates me, and it was a different time then. People could disagree without being disagreeable and figure out how to work together to get things done. I remember when Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole used to sit down and write legislation and enact it. That’s just rarer and rarer. It’s an environment that makes it harder to find that common ground.

Senator Portman: (11:06)
Having said that, in my office, we’ve figured it out. I mean, again, I said 68 of my bills were signed into law by President Obama, 82 by President Trump. Those are all bipartisan by definition. Because of the filibuster, you have to get 60 votes in the Senate, which is something that, by the way, I support.

Senator Portman: (11:24)
Without having to get those 60 votes in the Senate, we’d be even more like the House in the Senate. It’d be even more partisan. The way it stands now, with a few exceptions, you have to actually figure out a way to get some support from the other side, that results not only in better legislation, in my view, but also more sustainable legislation; so that every time the majority shifts, and as we’ve seen, it’s on the knife’s edge right now. Isn’t it? Both in the House and the Senate. You could have entirely different approaches to everything from healthcare policy to tax policy, to foreign affairs. I think the filibuster plays an important role, and that’s one reason I’m very concerned about what Democrats are saying.

Senator Portman: (12:05)
By the way, President Trump opposed the filibuster too. He wanted us to get rid of it. You remember? And I was one of the Republicans who stood up, sign the letter, saying we ought to keep it because it at least provides some modicum of bipartisanship.

Speaker 4: (12:23)
Senator Portman, you mentioned being on that [inaudible 00:12:24] call yesterday. What do you say to residents here in Ohio that feel like it’s being rolled out too slowly, there’s not enough vaccinations? [inaudible 00:12:24] a lot more quickly it feels like. How do we address this and what do you tell residents?

Senator Portman: (12:39)
Yeah, I’m very concerned about it. I think the rollout of the vaccines need to go more quickly. We need to have more production. Obviously, our issue in Ohio here is we’re not getting the supplies that we need, and then we need to be doing a better job of distributing it fairly. There’s some examples of vaccine being wasted because it’s not refrigerated properly, or people not being able to get through on telephone lines. We’re getting calls from constituents right now who are 75-years old or older, who are told this week, they can get the vaccine, but they’re having a really difficult time finding out how to get it. It needs to be a national effort. Yes, the states play a huge role as do our local health departments, including here in Hamilton County. But this, we’ve got to focus on that like a laser.

Senator Portman: (13:22)
By the way, it’s not for lack of money right now, because we just passed $900 billion, including $30 billion for that purpose. President Biden would like to put more money against it. I’m for that. But frankly, that’s not the issue right now. It’s more about logistics and getting it out the door. The money has not yet been spent from the 900 billion that was appropriated for that purpose. It hasn’t been obligated yet. It hasn’t been spent yet entirely.

Senator Portman: (13:49)
I said earlier that the call yesterday was with the administration and with a group of us, Republican and Democrat, and my hope is that after that call the message will be very clear to the White House that they need to have a more targeted COVID-19 package that does focus on the vaccinations, development of them and distribution of them, and not a number of extraneous matters.

Senator Portman: (14:13)
There are about six things in that proposal from President Biden that have nothing to do with COVID-19. Nothing. Everything from raising the minimum wage, which according to the Congressional Budget Office is going to result in anywhere from one-point-seven to three-point-something million jobs lost in small businesses, to issues about cybersecurity, which I’m the lead among Republicans at least on cybersecurity, pushing back on that in the government. But the $10 billion in that COVID-19 bill on cybersecurity defense has nothing to do with COVID-19. And there’s some other wishlist items like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Democrats have wanted to do it for years. Put that stuff aside. We can debate those issues and deal with them separately. Let’s focus in the COVID-19 package on what we need right now. What we need right now is distribution of these vaccines to save lives, better testing and tracing, and we need to get our kids back to school. If we focused on those things, I think we could have a bipartisan product. I was delighted with what President Biden said on the stage at the inaugural. I was not delighted with the COVID-19 package that landed on our desks in Congress without any consultation with any Republican or Democrat, as far as I know.

Speaker 4: (15:27)
Do you know kind of how or how it compares to other states [inaudible 00:15:30] vaccines we’re actually giving? Or how that is decided? The numbers?

Senator Portman: (15:35)
Well, we’re a bigger and more complicated state, but our distribution is based on per capita, in other words, how many people we have in Ohio. My understanding is that the distribution has been fair relative to the number of people in Ohio. Some states have chosen to do it differently. Some states have chosen to open it up more and have people wait in lines. Other states have said, “No, let’s focus on those who are more likely to be seriously impacted by coronavirus,” which is the elderly and then people who have pre-existing conditions. That’s what we’ve chosen to do here in Ohio.

Senator Portman: (16:09)
We’re at 75 this week. My hope is that we can get these supplies up. The one thing that I’m excited about is that there’s another vaccine coming quickly and that’s the Janssen J&J vaccine. My hope is that the FDA will review that quickly and that, within the next couple of weeks, we’ll have one of these emergency use authorizations from the FDA for a new vaccine.

Senator Portman: (16:34)
The reason I like this vaccine, one, I’m in the trial for Janssen J&J, so I know a lot about it. I’ve been in the trial for, I don’t know, six weeks, so my data’s part of the data they’re using to determine whether it’s safe and efficacious, I guess, is the word they use. The efficacy is high. My hope is it’s going to be very successful, as Moderna and Pfizer were. But also it’s one dose, which I think is a lot better and it doesn’t have to be super-refrigerated. In other words, it doesn’t have to be frozen at levels that require specialized refrigeration equipment. Those are big advantages. My hope is that that’ll be approved soon and that we’ll have new supplies.

Senator Portman: (17:18)
That vaccine has already been produced, which is part of what’s going on with this warp speed that I really like is they went ahead and did the production of the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, now the J Janssen J&J vaccine in advance so when the approval is done, the vaccine can move. My hope is Ohio will get our share of that as quickly as possible. Then we’ll have places like Walgreens and Kroger be able to distribute this and be able to provide the service as they do for a flu shot, because that’s how you’re really going to get to kind of broad immunity that we all want.

Senator Portman: (17:52)
I think that ought to be our focus in Congress. I am doing some oversight on that, as you know, in my role on the Homeland Security Committee. I thought I might be chair of that committee, now I’m going to be the ranking Republican. But that’s one of the projects I-

Senator Portman: (18:03)
… for that committee. Now I’m going to be the ranking Republican, but that’s one of the projects I referred to earlier is that we’re doing hearings and oversight on vaccine distribution and frankly trying to light a fire under the federal side of this to get these vaccines out as quickly as possible.

Senator Portman: (18:17)
Dan?

Dan: (18:18)
[inaudible 00:18:20].

Senator Portman: (18:22)
You came up here, so.

Dan: (18:23)
Okay, do you have anyone in mind you would like to run to succeed you [inaudible 00:00:33]?

Senator Portman: (18:36)
Well, we’ve got a lot of great Republicans in Ohio who would be highly qualified for the seat. When you think about it, we’ve got all the constitutional statewide offices are now Republican, meaning attorney general and secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, lieutenant governor, and governor. We also got 12 out of the 16 House seats are held by Republicans. We’ve got super majorities in the House and Senate, the State House and Senate. So there’s plenty of candidates out there.

Senator Portman: (19:09)
I don’t have one in particular, Dan, that I’m prepared to talk about today, but I know there’ll be plenty of interest. As you know, we’ve been careful not to announce this in advance because I really wanted to do it with you all and to have a chance for my staff and others not to be surprised by it leaking out before I had a chance to explain it. So I haven’t talked to anybody specifically about running, but there’s a bunch of great candidates out there now. Now your tough question.

Jane Portman: (19:38)
[inaudible 00:19:38] Dan.

Senator Portman: (19:38)
So Jane, two years from now, what do you want to happen [inaudible 00:19:51]-

Jane Portman: (19:50)
Yeah, first of all, can you tell that I have a little smile behind my mask? Thanks for asking. And I don’t know what the future will really bring after the next couple of years, but Rob and I have been talking about this and thinking about this for quite a while, and I’m very comfortable with everything that he shared with you this morning. I also, not answering your question directly, but I appreciate being behind the microphone because I do want to take the opportunity to say how really proud I am of Rob.

Jane Portman: (20:27)
He’s just an outstanding public servant. And I know you all know this and maybe I’m biased, but he is honest, he’s hardworking, he’s humble, he’s smart. And even in these crazy, turbulent, toxic, polarized political times, Rob is still somehow able to keep his sense of decency and his sense of decorum and still get things done for the people of Ohio and for the United States. And so I join him in my gratitude to everybody in the state of Ohio for giving Rob the opportunity to serve and for us to be along as supportive of him. And I’m just very proud of you. So yeah. We can kiss, can’t we?

Senator Portman: (21:14)
I nominate Jane Portman.

Jane Portman: (21:16)
No way.

Senator Portman: (21:18)
She’s too smart. Jason?

Jason: (21:23)
Five years, 10 years down the road, what do you hope people remember you for?

Senator Portman: (21:27)
Legislation. You know, I’m kind of old fashioned, Jason. I view myself as a lawmaker, getting on the Sunday shows or the cable shows or talk radio is not my idea of what I ought to be doing. Not that I don’t do it now and again to talk about policy, which usually ends up being about something else, but it’s about passing legislation and also being involved with oversight that helps people in their daily lives. One reason I mentioned the work we’ve done on the substance abuse area is because Ohio has been slammed. Where you grew up has been slammed, Gallia County, Southern Ohio, Southeastern Ohio. And I think we’ve made a big difference. One of my huge concerns right now, and it’s heartbreaking is seeing these opioids and other drugs, including crystal meth, overdoses increase and the overdose deaths this year will probably be higher than they were during our peak, after three or four years of real progress.

Senator Portman: (22:34)
You know, we were among the worst in the country, probably number two or three. And as a country, every year, we were seeing more and more overdose deaths, really for two or three decades, every year more. And in 2018, that changed. We had a 22% reduction in deaths in Ohio. And I think a lot of it had to do with the work we did because we made a huge commitment in Washington to increase not just funding, but focus on evidence- based results. And specifically I mention on recovery services, which had never been funded the federal government level before those people’s whose lives were saved we’ll never know. Those people whose lives were able to be more fulfilling and productive we’ll never know, but I know it made a huge difference. And I hear about that from people, including moms and dads who may have lost a kid and they appreciate it.

Senator Portman: (23:28)
And also talked about the work on trafficking and the work on the economy. I mean, I really believe one of the great untold stories of the last couple of years is the terrific opportunity economy we had going into COVID-19. Not just that the economy was doing better, but the people in Ohio, they hadn’t seen a pay increase for a couple of decades. We’re seeing more wages. They were actually getting more money in their pockets. 19th month of wage growth of 3% or more as of February on an annual basis, that’s pretty cool. I mean, that compounds every year and people were saying, “Hey, if I work hard and play by the rules, I can get ahead.” Which is one of the reasons I think Donald Trump was elected is because so many people were frustrated by that.

Senator Portman: (24:07)
So there was a lot of good going on. It was the lowest poverty rate in the history of our country and we started keeping track of that in the early ’50s. There was a lot of good going on. The economic growth and the fact that the inequities in our economy were beginning to shorten and we were beginning to see more opportunity for people to be able to succeed for themselves and their family. And that’s one thing that concerns me is as we go into this COVID-19 legislation, let’s not reverse all that. Let’s not raise the taxes, raise the regulations, do the things that are going to make it harder to get back to an opportunity economy. Hope I’ll be remembered for legislation.

Jason: (24:46)
Can you talk about the climate stability in politics and how that played into your decision? This [inaudible 00:24:56], so you talked about this for a couple years, right? I heard there was a protest outside your house two years ago. Was that a moment where you guys really start talking about it, or what was the moment where you thought, “[inaudible 00:25:13] I’m going to run again.”?

Senator Portman: (25:16)
Yeah, we’ve had protests and that’s okay. I mean, I think peaceful demonstration is part of what we got to protect in this country, including at my house. I don’t think it makes it easy to be in public service. People have the right to do that, but no, I don’t think there’s any one thing, Jason, I think it was just a sense that I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I love my family and you know, I have been commuting for 30 years. You know, I was home for a while before I ran for the Senate. I thought I was never going to run again at that point. And if George Voinovich hadn’t chosen to retire and hadn’t come to me and said, “I really want you to run for the seat,” I wouldn’t be standing here.

Senator Portman: (26:00)
So it’s not like I expected politics to be my whole life. When I first got in, I thought, “Maybe I’ll do this for five years and get back to the real world.” You know? And here it is 30 years later, but actually I was in the House of Representatives. I supported term limits, 12 year term limits, which is what I did in the House. 12 year term limits in the Senate. It was part of that. That’s what I’m doing in the Senate. Not that I haven’t ever talked about that in my campaigns, but it’s just my attitude. I don’t think you got to stay forever. You know, public service is an honor. It’s a calling, but it’s also true that some people stay an awful long time and a little fresh blood’s not a bad thing.

Speaker 3: (26:43)
[inaudible 00:26:43] I know the last four years I’ve been getting a lot of messages directed at you basically saying they want you to speak out against what the administration was doing or stand up to the President some way. But first off, what was that like as far as the feedback you were getting and-

Speaker 5: (27:02)
[inaudible 00:00:06].

Senator Portman: (27:09)
Well, I’m surprised you didn’t say the opposite of that as well, which is I’m sure you’ve got lots of messages from people saying, “Why is Rob not supporting President Trump enough?”

Speaker 5: (27:20)
[inaudible 00:27:21].

Senator Portman: (27:20)
Yeah. Well, I get both. And as I said earlier, our country’s polarized right now. It’s kind of shirts and skins, isn’t it? And that makes it more difficult to find that common ground because elected officials aren’t rewarded for that. What they’re rewarded for is throwing out the red meat on the talk show. And that isn’t conducive to solving the serious problems we face as a country. So I get it from both sides. As you know, I have consistently spoken up when I’ve disagreed with Donald Trump, and I’ve consistently spoken up when I’ve agreed with him on policy. As an example, what I talked about in terms of the tax reform, the regulatory relief, the energy policy. I mean, it’s been extraordinary what’s happened in this country, some very good things. And I’ve talked about those and I’ve supported those. And I’ve been, frankly, in the middle of those, including with the tax cuts and tax reform. I took the lead in the Senate to negotiate with the House and get that done.

Senator Portman: (28:28)
So there’s been times when I’ve been very supportive on a policy basis. But to substance is one thing, and tone and style is another. And I think we need to tone it down. And I’ve consistently said that. Interesting, with regard to the election, I was looking at my comments. I think it was about two and a half weeks after the election. I said, “The president has the right to seek recounts. He has the right to seek answers in the court. But based on the evidence, there was not widespread fraud adequate enough to change the results of the election.” So I said that weeks ago. That was a couple months ago. And I consistently have said it. And I think that’s an important thing that we as public officials need to do.

Senator Portman: (29:24)
One, give people the opportunity to pursue their legal rights. Absolutely. But at some point, you have to say, “It’s time for the peaceful transition of power.” And by the way, I said that back in September, that I was concerned about comments that were being made about peaceful transfer of power. So that’s why I hear from both sides. And look, I get that. People have every right to express their views to us, you in the media and me. But we also have to figure out a way to work together. And if we just keep pushing out to the right, now to the left, there’s not going to be much left in the middle to solve the real problems we face.

Speaker 5: (30:05)
[inaudible 00:00:30:09].

Senator Portman: (30:26)
Yeah, I think he’s right. I think Dave’s done a good job of focusing on the fraud issues in unemployment insurance. We talked about this yesterday, actually, in the bipartisan call. And I guess what happens, Nick, all the specifics stay within the room. But I’ve seen a lot of reports today on other aspects. So I’ll just say one of the things we talked about was fraud. And the administration now wants to increase the $300 per week to $400 per week. The $300 per week was a carefully crafted bipartisan solution, which I support it. But that means that 42% of people who are getting that $300 per week are making more on unemployment than they were making at work. 42%. So if you take it to 400, it’s more than half of those people would make more on unemployment, which leads to some of the issues you’re raising.

Senator Portman: (31:15)
So I strongly urged the administration not to do that. It’s also very difficult for the state of Ohio and other states to now make another change in the unemployment insurance. Their systems are antiquated, frankly. It’s a concern of mine. We should modernize all these unemployment comp systems around the country. But right now, to go from 300 to 400 would be a real problem for them. So why would they propose that after we just went through a painstaking bipartisan process to get to 300? Which frankly, most of my Republican colleagues probably don’t support. So that’s one reason I think we ought to stick where we are. As long as the economy is bad, yeah, we should have that additional federal supplement, but we also ought not to just do it endlessly without any connection to the economic situation. And we ought to focus on the fraud as-

Speaker 5: (32:00)
[inaudible 00:05:01].

Senator Portman: (32:02)
Yeah. I mean, I think he makes a good point and that we ought to have some consequence for those who engage in that. And they ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We can’t allow that. I mean, it’s precious resources. Isn’t it? To extent we have money going to COVID-19, let’s not waste it.

Speaker 5: (32:20)
[inaudible 00:32:22].

Senator Portman: (32:25)
Well, it was a rough time. Let’s face it. And I spoke on the floor that night. And I refer you to my comments there, but I said, “We’re not going to be intimidated. And we’re not going to let a mob disrupt the work of democracy.” And so, among others, I have felt very strongly that we get back into the chamber and do our work that night and finish the vote. You know how I felt about it. I felt like it was my constitutional duty to vote for certification. The states had followed the right process. And I was disappointed with my colleagues who voted otherwise. But that wasn’t that event.

Senator Portman: (33:01)
It was a tough night. It’s really the fact that, look, I’ve been doing this a long time. And I’m 65 years old, I’m going to do it for two more years with all the gusto I can manage. And I’m going to work like hell for Ohio for the next two years. But after that, I’m going to have to opportunity to be home more and to be able to be with my family more and my friends and get back to, I said earlier, there’s some policy issues that I feel very passionately about. I mentioned some of them today. I think I can be just as effective outside the Senate on some of these things given the gridlock in Washington. And I look forward to that as well.

Speaker 5: (33:45)
Thanks, everyone.

Senator Portman: (33:46)
Jason, one more.

Jason: (33:47)
George H.W. Bush was a mentor to you. [inaudible 00:33:54]. You guys stayed in touch all the way up until he passed. Did you guys talk about the eroding of civility in politics? If so, [inaudible 00:34:06].

Senator Portman: (34:07)
Yeah. I went to see him every year after he left office and we had great discussions. I saw him shortly before he passed. And he was hesitant to give me specific advice. I’d call him sometimes too and say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” You know, “I’m not there. I don’t know all the details.” But you’re right. His general approach was that without civility, it’s impossible to get people to trust one another and therefore to do what’s best for the country. And so he was concerned. And he was like my dad, World War II veteran, greatest generation guy, he just put country first. And so he’s someone I tried to emulate. I’m not suggesting I was able to in every respect, but he was the reason I got into public service in the first place. Just his approaches, his model. He was a proud Republican, proud conservative. But he realized that the way you get things done is you show that respect to other people, show civility, and that results in better results for our country. Thank you all.