CINCINNATI - Being a political spouse requires diplomacy, resiliency and thick skin. And by all accounts, Jane Portman has those qualities.
And those qualities will be tested further if Mitt Romney chooses her Ohio senator husband as his running mate.
But the Portmans also enjoy a quieter side of life in Southwest Ohio.
Jane and Rob Portman built their home in Terrace Park three years ago. Overlooking the Little Miami River, it's far from the campaign trail.
"We love being here; it's very peaceful," Jane said. "A nice retreat for our family."
It's a "green" house — energy efficient, with floors reclaimed from a barn in central Ohio, and other native Ohio features.
Family photos testify to the Portmans' love of the outdoors.
"We live on the Little Miami River. We enjoy canoeing, kayaking," Jane said. "Those types of activities allow parents and kids to bond in really important ways."
She and her husband have shared 25 years of marriage and three children, and it all began with a blind date.
"We had a nice time, but honestly we both gave that first date mixed reviews," Jane said. "I thought Rob talked way too much — I couldn't get a word in edgewise — and he thought I was a little bit quiet."
Not so quiet anymore. Jane said she feels comfortable campaigning with her husband, or speaking for him.
So what does she think of her husband being labeled as a "boring white guy?"
"My reaction is that anyone who says that about Rob clearly hasn't spent any time with him," Jane said. "They clearly don't know him well. Rob is a doer, he's a giver, he's a listener, he's got more energy than almost anyone I've ever met."
One thing that helps the Portman family deal with the slings and arrows of politics is a sense of humor. Take their 20-year-old son Will Portman, for instance.
"Most people, when I say my name is Will Portman, they ask if I'm related to Natalie Portman, and they're disappointed it's Rob," he said with a laugh.
Of the three Portman children, Will, a junior at Yale, has gotten into politics the most. He went along on his dad's Senate campaign.
"It was great. He had a big 'Portman for Senate RV.' We went all over the state — Columbus, Toledo and little towns in between," he said. "It was a good chance to do a lot of father-son bonding. I worked on social media, did a lot of tweeting. Biggest accomplishment was teaching my dad to tweet from his Blackberry."
On the question of the vice presidency, the Portmans are in sync. In April, Rob said he felt like he could help Romney more from within Ohio. His wife echoed that idea.
"We're so happy to be in Ohio, in our Terrace Park neighborhood," she said.
And there's a new addition to the Portmans' home: chickens.
"They do have names," Jane said. "We have Estelle, Ruth, Lelamaude and Ruby."
The "girls" were Jane's latest Christmas present from Rob, and they produce eggs every day.
As much as the Portmans say they love their Ohio home, the uncertainty of the moment could rattle some families. But Jane said she's planning to stay in Ohio — for now.
"We are living our lives as though Rob would be remaining in the Senate," she said. "We're very happy with that approach, just carrying on."
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