Start Time: 00:03
End Time: 03:25
Susan Davis interviews Portman on his decision. He claims that people are pushing farther to the right and left and divisiveness between them is a deeper cultural issue.
Publish Date: Jan 29, 2021
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Susan Davis interviews Portman on his decision. He claims that people are pushing farther to the right and left and divisiveness between them is a deeper cultural issue. Portman finds that finding the middle ground is difficult and not rewarded enough. He believes that Trump has exacerbated this problem with his course language and statements.
Hey there, it's the NPR politics podcast. I'm Scott Tetro. I cover the White House and I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress and we have another interview today. Sue. You just sat down and talked to Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. He is a Republican, and he's been in the news lately because he just announced he is not going to run for re election. He did, and it was a bit of a surprise. You know, Portman is from Ohio. He was heavily favored toe win reelection. He's relatively young in Senate ages. Um, but he said in a statement that he basically it had kind of enough of the partisanship that he was exhausted from the back and forth between Ohio on D C. That it's getting harder and harder for lawmakers like him. Thio get things done on. He's ready to move on in his career. And, you know, Portman has been involved in politics Republican politics for, you know, the better part of the past 30 years. He was a member of the House under the Bush administration. He served as both the U. S. Trade rep and the head of the N B. The Office of management budget, and he served two terms in the Senate. He's He's a really well known, really well liked Republican lawmaker, but he's probably don't wanna call him a backbencher, But he's not necessarily like a flame thrower. He's not somebody who's like out on the cables all the time saying and doing provocative stuff. He's more of a workhorse than a show horse, and and he has a good reputation on the Hill. And I guess that's one reason why his retirement announcement was surprising. He's the type of governing focused person who you would think would really want to kind of gain that seniority in the Senate over time, to to do more things. But also, we know that almost always the party that's out of power gains seats in a midterm. The Senate's tied 50 50 right now that that would give Republicans a decent shot of regaining the majority in two years. But he wants to leave. At that point. He does, and and that's kind of where I wanted to start off his toe, provoke him on this question of why do you want to get out of here now? Especially if he's someone that was pretty favored to win in 2022. Boy, if we had a couple hours, we could really get into that. I don't know that I have a profound answer to it, but I do believe that in my time. A Zay said when I announced on Monday. But doing this for 30 years, off and on and you know the commute is getting old, but in terms of the gridlock, look, I just think people are being pushed further and further to the right or to the left, and it's harder to find people willing to do the hard work to find that middle ground. I think it is not rewarded Aziz much. And there was a political consultant who apparently made a comment yesterday that a reporter talking about saying, If you want to get on, you know MSNBC or Fox or and throw red meat, you know it's a great time to be in office. So if you want to try to get things done so hard time. He used more colorful language than that. I think Cory Blister talking. I think it was all that quote. Yeah, I think it's probably going to continue that way for a while because it's not. It's not something that happened because of Donald Trump. You know, which is part of the Maybe that was your next question. I mean, he has exacerbated the problem in the sense that the, you know, the tweets, the incivility, the coarseness of language and so on are part of it. But let's face it, it's been going on for a while. I remember when George W. Bush was considered the most divisive president in the history of the country, and then it was Barack Obama was the most divisive president history, the country. And then it was Donald Trump. I mean, it's a deeper cultural issue. You know, people can find online affirmation of their opinions, even if they aren't accurate on both sides, and that