McKay Coppins digs around and finds that Rob Portman is considerably to the Left of Marco Rubio on immigration issues.
Portman's record has remained remarkably pro-immigrant over the years even as his party has adopted an increasingly hard line on immigration. In the House, he voted against reporting illegal immigrants who receive hospital treatment, and in favor of granting more immigrant visas for skilled workers.
In 2003, the Federation for American Immigration Reform gave Portman a 0 percent rating on the issue — placing him among the most ardent immigrant advocates in Congress. (Five years later, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz would receive the same rating.)
More recently, while campaigning for Senate, Portman indicated support for a "path to citizenship" for some illegal immigrants. Fluent in Spanish — which he learned in college — he even cut his own Spanish-language campaign ad, focused on the economy.
He has also been known to volunteer as an ESL tutor both in Ohio and DC.
Very interesting, but is it important?
THE CASE FOR 'YES': If Romney picks Rubio, I suspect the pushback from Democrats will go like so.
Republicans are just pandering to you by picking a Latino, and you're smarter than letting that influence your vote, right?
How do we know that might happen? Because that's what happened when Sarah Palin was picked. Instead of applauding Republicans for putting a woman on a ticket, Democrats told voters it was all a ruse and said to female voters: "Really? Are you going to vote for someone just because she's a woman?"
So I suspect the same line would be used against Rubio, considering it's the same dynamic (the GOP being inclusive) and same opponents (Democrats).
Theoretically, it could work and the demonization of Rubio being complete, Democrats and Jon Stewart could then go back to mocking the GOP for not including minorities.
If that scenario is in play, picking a guy like Portman (who's not Latino but has a more liberal record on immigration) might actually work fine, because Democrats couldn't dismiss him by pandering.
THE CASE FOR "NO":
Even if immigration activists express admiration and fondness for Portman's record right now, does that mean they'll ultimately side with the GOP against Barack Obama in November?
Not at all.
In fact, no matter how appreciative activists are of Portman's efforts, Obama's record and rhetoric on immigration will always be more appealing to activists than Romney's, and this is a binomial choice where you can either choose Romney or Obama; not both.
In that context, it seems awfully risky to pick Portman and bank on his record (as a Veep candidate!) being more persuasive than the president's.
So the answer is YES, Portman's record on immigration might, indeed, matter to Hispanics, but it's a stretch to say that it'd be more compelling than Obama's vision, and an even bigger stretch to think it would transcend other ideological differences.
And, of course, this is Romney vs. Obama. Not Portman vs. Obama.