Bush pick for USTR draws cheers, jeers

Mar 18, 2005 | 08:05 AM | Nancy E. Kelly

Few Washington steel interests expressed familiarity with the Ohio lawmaker President Bush tapped Thursday to succeed Robert Zoellick as U.S. Trade Representative, but they took some solace from the fact he is a native son of a manufacturing state.

But while there is some light manufacturing in the district Rep. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) has represented since 1993, it is not home to any steel facilities. Aside from a portion of Cincinnati, Portman's district is largely rural.

In picking a lawmaker with a reputation for bipartisanship, as opposed to an experienced negotiator, the Bush administration is signaling its intention to get several trade objectives through the 109th Congress, including passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the renewal of fast-track authority.

In giving Portman an administration post, some speculated Bush was rewarding him for helping beat Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in Ohio, a pivotal swing state in the 2004 election. Portman served as the Ohio communications chairman for Bush-Cheney 2004 and served as policy advisor in both presidential campaigns. He played the roles of both Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman and presidential candidate Al Gore in mock debates in 2000, and played the role of Sen. John Edwards in the vice presidential practice debates with Dick Cheney in 2004.....

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