November 13, 2012
The controversial comments about rape made by senatorial candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock helped contribute to the defeat of Mitt Romney and the inability for the Republicans to take control of the Senate, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday.
The Republican, who played President Obama in debate preparations with Mitt Romney, said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council event in Washington that they had a negative impact though he wasn’t able to quantify how much. “We had a gender gap, it’s not something new this year,” he said. “[But] the comments exacerbated the gender gap.”
Portman, who said he won’t run to head up the Republicans’ efforts in the Senate, also bemoaned the party’s weak standing with the youth vote, which he attributed in part to the Republican Party’s stance on social issues but also on poor communication and technology. “It’s not just Gordon vs. Orca (Obama and Romney’s respective vote-tracking systems), but how do your reach people where they live. For a lot of young people — and a lot of seniors — they are online.”
He expressed surprise that Obama won with later-deciding voters. “That’s a huge surprise. Usually the challenger picks up the majority of last-minute voters,” Portman said.
Portman dodged a question on whether he agreed with Sen. Mitch McConnell that Obama did not have a mandate for higher taxes and said parties should give themselves a six-month timeframe for comprehensive tax reform. “Let’s agree to tax reform that everyone agrees to in general, but the devil is in the details,” he said.