Erin McPike reports on the “foreign policy heft” of Portman and Pawlenty:
One line of thinking in GOP circles is that should Romney choose Portman, the party would have a ticket that could govern best in all fronts, because the Ohio senator has the longest foreign policy resume of the bunch. Not to be outdone, however, Tim Pawlenty spent eight years as the commander-in-chief of the Minnesota National Guard in his capacity as governor [bold mine-DL]. He also has some experience in enforcing Iran sanctions, which gives him limited foreign policy qualifications.
No, Portman outdoes Pawlenty here, and it isn’t close. Going on some trade missions as governor simply isn’t in the same league as serving as U.S. Trade Representative, and being the commander-in-chief of a state’s National Guard isn’t foreign policy experience at all. These are part of being a state executive, and Pawlenty can claim them as proof of executive experience, but the fact that National Guard units from Minnesota served overseas does not mean that Pawlenty suddenly acquired foreign policy qualifications. This is the sort of thing a candidate talks about when he doesn’t have those qualifications. Hotline has noted Pawlenty’s “lack of foreign policy credentials” in assessing his chances of being selected by Romney.
It’s fair to say that Portman is the only likely running mate with any significant foreign policy experience. Even so, it is a bit much to say that he has “foreign policy heft.” His time as U.S. Trade Representative was quite brief, and he has been in the Senate for less than two years. Compared to all modern non-Palin running mates, Portman would arguably have the least foreign policy experience of any VP nominee since Quayle. Before that, one would probably need to go back to Agnew in 1968 to find a Republican VP nominee with less experience. Portman has “heft” in foreign policy only by comparison with the other possible running mates and the presidential nominee himself, which is an indication of how unprepared the rest of them are.