Foreign Policy Blogs

Former USTR Elected to Senate

Former USTR Elected to SenateRob Portman, United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush, was perhaps the most successful person to hold this job after Robert Zoellick. Last week he was elected to service in the Senate representing my home state of Ohio. He was hammered hard for his support of free trade during the campaign but managed to win by nearly 20 percent. His work at the WTO’s Doha round was profiled in the book Misadventures of the Most Favored Nations by Paul Blustein: “Portman was drawing raves for the genial manner in which he was conducting himself; at one point, during a discussion about cotton, the U.S. trade representative walked across the green room and knelt by his counterpart from Benin to engage in whispered conversation – a gesture that melted observers’ hearts.”

He has held several other positions in government and has always been highly regarded by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Look for him to become a real leader in the Senate and hopefully someone who can work to bridge the massive divide that has split the Democrats and Republicans today. This type of diplomacy is something that is very much needed. It will be interesting to see how well Portman will be able to do this with the other Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, who literally wrote the book against free trade.