For nearly 20 years, Republicans have turned to Portman, now a senator from Ohio and widely rumored to be near the top of Mitt Romney's list of preferred running mates, for help with debate preparation. The freshman senator has a natural talent for throwing himself into the role of the opposing candidate in mock debates. According to people who have seen Portman perform this feat, he nails it every time.
Since 1996, when Bob Dole tapped Portman to channel Lamar Alexander in a practice debate, Portman has played the role of Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and most recently, Barack Obama.
"I don't try to imitate the president, per se," Portman told Yahoo News in an interview. "Just take the policy positions and some of the same rhetoric. It's a good way to learn what the other side is thinking and how they approach problems."