Bush Taps Portman as Trade Representative

No, not Natalie. While her experience playing Queen Amidala might have been useful, President Bush instead went with Congressman Rob Portman.

Bloomberg.com: U.S. (Bloomberg)

President George W. Bush will nominate U.S. Representative Rob Portman to be U.S. trade representative, an administration official said. Bush will announce the pick at 9:30 a.m. today at the White House, the official said. Portman, a Republican from Ohio, would replace Robert Zoellick, who was named to the No. 2 post in the State Department in January.

The trade representative is the nation’s lead trade negotiator, helping sell the administration’s policy of using overseas trade to spur economic growth at home. Bush faces three tests of that policy this year: winning passage in Congress for a Central American free trade accord, keeping his “fast-track” trade authority and resisting congressional efforts to withdraw the U.S. from the World Trade Organization.

AP provides some details on Portman’s background:

Portman, 49, has been one of Bush’s chief links to Congress on trade, tax and other issues. He has been a strong advocate of free trade on Capitol Hill even though he comes from a state that has been hit hard by job losses. […] In Congress, Portman has served since 2001 as the official liaison between the White House and House leadership. In that role, Portman frequently is called upon to move Bush-backed legislation through the House, such as the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security. Portman was an associate counsel in the White House during the administration of Bush’s father and eventually became director of its Office of Legislative Affairs.

I’d prefer someone with more of a foreign policy background but Portman has the president’s confidence and should have an easy time working with Congress, both excellent assets.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    “Tabs”? “Taps”?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, that too 🙂