Portman has already seen several earlier efforts at dealing with the debt, entitlements and tax reform sputter, having a front-row seat on last year's failed super committee. "I was probably the most naive member of that committee. I actually took it seriously," he joked. "It's got to be for real next time," he said.
Despite Portman's protestation that he plans to stay in the Senate, others have speculated that he would be a natural pick for a Romney administration and could be persuaded to join if he were given a broad enough portfolio and if Romney wanted him badly enough.
"It's a great question," said Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio), a senior tax writer who would play a large role in passing a major tax overhaul next year.
The Treasury slot, with a mandate to take the lead on tax reform, could be enticing if the offer were made, some in the GOP have speculated.
"That would be pretty huge," Tiberi said.
Portman would have to weigh that against being one of 100 and not having a key chairmanship.