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Ohio's Sen. Portman says Obama lacks record to run on, defends Romney

CINCINNATI, OH -- Sen. Rob Portman on Saturday defended presumptive nominee Mitt Romney against negative ads running in his home state of Ohio, saying the misleading attacks show that President Barack Obama "does not have a record to run on."

Portman, believed to be on the shortlist of candidates under consideration to be the Republican vice presidential pick, borrowed the script from a recently released Romney ad that uses the president's own words as proof of campaign hypocrisy.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

"I think he's running a campaign with -- stick with me here -- no fresh ideas, and when you have a campaign with no fresh ideas, you use stale tactics to scare voters," Portman said of Obama. "If you have no record to run on, you paint your opponent as someone to run from. Guess who I just quoted?  Barack Obama from four years ago."

The lines are from Obama's 2008 Democratic convention speech, and Portman said that this time around, it is the president who is guilty of exactly what he accused Republicans during his first presidential campaign. The Ohio senator said fact checkers have proved that attacks on Romney for outsourcing jobs as the chief executive of Bain Capital are "not true" and continuing the attacks "tells me that he's running the kind of campaign that someone would run who does not have a record to run on."

Portman was on hand to help open a new Romney Victory office here near his home in southwestern Ohio. It is just the latest of a series of ways he has helped as a surrogate for the campaign during the past year.

Along with rebutting the accuracy of the outsourcing ads, Portman also defended Romney over questions about his openness as a presidential candidate. This week new reports surfaced that bring into question when exactly Romney ended his time as the head of Bain, and his opponents on the left have hammered the former Massachusetts governor over speculation about Swiss bank accounts and investments in the Cayman Islands.

The Buckeye State senator told NBC News after the ribbon cutting ceremony that he believes Romney has been "very transparent," and suggested that more transparency will give the Obama campaign more opportunities for misleading attacks.

Not only has he allowed his tax returns to be public, but he's also happy to talk about any of this stuff in terms of Bain," Portman said of Romney. "What's happening is that as more and more facts come out and as there is more transparency on Bain, it becomes clearer and clearer in terms of what the Obama campaign is doing is misleading at best ... so transparency is a good idea, but the issue right now is that the Obama campaign continues to run ads that aren't true."

Asked how many years’ worth of tax returns Portman released to the Romney campaign for his vice presidential vetting, he simply laughed.  Portman has been mum on the issue, and despite some in the small and crowded room discussing the chances that the man they heard today could soon take on a different role, Portman gave no hints of his political future.