Mitt Romney taps Rob Portman to play President Barack Obama for debate prep

BOSTON - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is tapping Ohio Sen. Rob Portman to play the role of President Barack Obama during his debate preparation sessions this fall.

Republican officials said Monday that Portman, who listened to audio versions of Obama's books to prepare for taking the same role opposite 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, will reprise the role for Romney this year. He's already preparing with additional briefing materials from Romney's campaign.

Portman has been impersonating Democrats in debate preparation sessions for more than a decade. When George W. Bush ran for president, Portman played former Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004. CNN first reported Portman's role this year.

Kerry will play Romney during Obama's debate preparation.

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