04:15 - Source: CNN
Portman on debate, Afghan withdrawal

This morning on “Starting Point,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) talks with Soledad about Mitt Romney’s performance in the last presidential debate. Portman played Obama in debate prep for the Romney campaign.

Portman thinks it was a good night for Romney.

“I think he appeared reassuring and thoughtful and knowledgeable,” Portman says. “Having played President Obama, I wasn’t surprised by a whole lot that he said because it’s sort of the same lines.”

“I think the foreign policy issue…is not the top issue in the country right now. It’s jobs and the economy. They did bring it back to that a few times, appropriately, really, because our ability to be strong overseas is dependent on our ability to be stronger at home. I think on those issues, Governor Romney is doing better because he’s talking about a vision. He’s talking about a strategy to get us back on track,” Portman says. “It’s important for us to have a vision to deal with the underlying causes, for instance, of Islamic extremism. That’s why I think it was a good debate for Governor Romney.”

Portman also addresses criticism that Romney agreed with many of the policies President Obama has put forth.

“I thought when Governor Romney did that it was refreshing to a lot of undecided voters who are tired of the attacks back and forth and the politics. And, look, when Governor Romney thought the President was right he said so. He also made it clear, by the way, that although he supported the drone attacks, he supported going after bin Laden, that that was not sufficient. And that’s when he said we cannot kill our way out of these problems. We need to provide a vision and a strategy for the future that deals with the underlying problems here of Islamic extremism, and the spread of it,” Portman adds.

O’Brien asks Portman about Romney’s position on a withdrawal date from Afghanistan. Romney has said the U.S. shouldn’t announce a withdrawal date, but still argues we should get out by 2014. Soledad asks if that’s a contradiction.

“No, he thinks we ought to get out by 2014. The question is how you communicate it, and whether you listen to the commanders on the ground about how you get there,” Portman says.