By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Using a blackboard and a thick piece of chalk, Rep. Rob Portman of Terrace Park broke down the elements of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 Saturday morning at the Lebanon Municipal Building.
Rep. Rob Portman signs a book by George H.W. Bush for Janet Longacre of Lebanon at a town hall meeting Saturday at the Lebanon Municipal Building.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN
At the public forum, Portman addressed senior citizens' concerns about the rising costs of prescription drugs.
"Seniors ironically have the worst situation. Because they go up as individuals, they pay the highest prices," Portman said. "So the idea is to get these millions of seniors around the country together in one plan with one card. That's why you get the discount."
Before the question-and-answer session began, Portman also focused on the federal budget and the national deficit.
"Bottom line for me is, if we are going to get the deficit under control we have to restrain our spending more," Portman said. "So this budget is an opportunity to do that."
No one in the audience of about 50 people asked about rumors that Portman could be considered as a replacement for Vice President Dick Cheney if Cheney decides not to run again. Afterward, however, Portman said he thinks Cheney will be President Bush's right-hand man.
"I believe Dick Cheney will be the running mate to George W. Bush," Portman said. "(Bush) trusts Cheney and he has incredible experience."
The majority of audience questions were about Iraq, Medicare and the budget. Portman fielded concerns about weapons of mass destruction, oil and nation building in Iraq. He said June 30 would stay as the day of transition from U.S. to Iraqi control. Regarding the primary election Tuesday, Portman said he believes Democratic Sen. John Kerry will win.
However, Portman thinks Bush will take Ohio in the "big contest."
"He will win this time because he has done most of the things Ohioans expect" regarding terrorism and the economy, Portman said.
After the meeting, 18-year Lebanon resident Jean Voelkel said Portman "seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and he appears to do a good job reasoning things out." She said she came to listen and gain information that is not readily available.
And that's what Portman says he hopes to provide at public forums.
"I love town meetings because I like to hear what people have to say," he said. "And part of it is trying to cut through the back-and-forth in a political year."
SPECIAL REPORT: DOWNTOWN DECISIONS
Private effort gathers steam
Huge task awaits development expert
Similar cities share drain of young people
People already abuzz over 17-year cicadas
Sign up now for Cicada Mania and other bug-infested events
Edwards, Kerry woo Ohio workers
Family disputes sex abuse charges
IN THE TRISTATE
Trustees disturbed by senior concerns
Hats off to Anderson Twp. woman's show of courage
Monroe picks city manager
Butler GOP leaders call group 'bogus'
'Guys and Dolls' takes audience back in time
Study: Vaccine benefit fades
Ad's effects to be seen shortly
Police seek suspect in fatal shooting
Leap Day a free day, but not cost-free
Mason center marks first year
Portman explains Medicare drug benefit
School trip gives lesson in survival, spirituality
Celebration honors college aid programs
Bronson: 'Too white'? Peers bully black students
Radel: For just a fistful of dollars, we can help restore our past
3 at Goshen win speech contest
Mary Eagen Grever was active volunteer
Robert Mace was broadcast executive
Donald Steinke, 80, was firefighter
Boone's master plan gets revision
George Clooney hustling for dad
Kentucky GOP elects Carey
Shopping mall opponents trying to rally the troops
N. Ky. News Briefs