Sen. Rob Portman: Transparency on Trump's health is smart

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 16, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: This guy doesn’t need a physical exam to prove he’s up to doing the job very thin, very fit, very with it.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman joins me right now.

Senator, good to have you.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN, R-OHIO: Neil, good to have you.

I think broccoli stocks might go up, too, because I think they are going to feed him some more broccoli after this.

CAVUTO: That could be a stretch.


PORTMAN: Poor guy.


CAVUTO: I was encouraged that, with all of this whining about his diet and everything else, he’s in the shape he’s in.

PORTMAN: I know. Amazing.

CAVUTO: I mean, my cardiologist immediately called up and said, Neil, don’t get any ideas.


CAVUTO: But this is unusual, isn’t it, Senator, for any president of any party over any year to get this kind of scrutiny over a routine physical, or to have the doctor conduct a long give-and-take with the press right afterwards.

What did you think?

PORTMAN: Yes, I think it’s good.

Look, I think the transparency is healthy. And, by the way, just as it was good, I think, to bring the press into the immigration meeting last week for 45 minutes, whatever it was, so they could see how he interacts with Democrats and Republicans and the like, I think the transparency on the health side is also smart.

And, so, I thought the doctor did a good job.

CAVUTO: You know, they were asking a lot of questions about his cognitive abilities.

And therein lies a very dicey area to get into, period. But in your dealings with the president, because this has come up a lot, his irascible nature, or not so much his language -- all presidents have pretty salty language, from what I have discovered -- but his turning and changing his mind on key issues like the DACA thing, depending on whose memory you buy, does that -- have you ever encountered that, where he’s with you on something, reverses it, that he’s not consistent in that regard?

PORTMAN: Yes, look, I haven’t spent as much time with him as other colleagues have, to be frank with you.

I worked with him a lot on tax reform, as you know. And, there, he was looking for an agreement there. And he had some broad principles. But he was quite flexible in terms of how you got there. So, he did have some changes in his position on specific tax rates.

You remember, we talked about this on the air, whether the corporate rate was going to be 20 percent or 25 percent, that sort of thing. But he kept to the principles.

And in my discussions with him on the opioid crisis, which we have also talked about, I spent about 45 minutes, maybe an hour with him once on that. He was very curious and asked a lot of questions.

So, that’s been my experience.

CAVUTO: All right, so this back and forth, I’m not really bothered by the language, coarse as it is. And I don’t care what was said.

I do think the bigger issue that has been lost is whether a DACA deal that looked like a done deal was stymied in part because the president changed his mind quickly.

Does that bother you?

PORTMAN: Well, I don’t think that -- that it’s clear what happened there.

I do think that the president was trying very hard to get an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in the room. And perhaps, you know, he said some things or went a little further than his staff was comfortable with.

CAVUTO: Right.

PORTMAN: That’s not unusual, by the way, whether it’s the president or whether it’s other elected officials. You know, you’re trying hard to work with people in the room, but that’s -- that’s possible.

CAVUTO: But I mention it, Senator, because your colleague Lindsey Graham had said the president was at that Tuesday meeting exchanging ideas, being open to a DACA deal if they agreed on a DACA deal.

That’s the president he would like to see, not this one from apparently the Thursday event.


On the other hand, ultimately, he wants to get a deal.

CAVUTO: Right.

PORTMAN: And I know that he would rather resolve this issue. And if it can’t be done in the context of Friday, which is when the government needs to be either funded or not, then, you know, there’s a little more time here, but not much. He’s given up to March to resolve this issue.

CAVUTO: Real quickly, sir, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was telling me on FOX Business he’s not interested in running for Senate from Minnesota.

You know, we still have Mitt Romney teasing folks, in a Salt Lake speech today, not indicating any commitment to running there. Are you worried about Republicans and their control of the Senate?

PORTMAN: Well, look, both of those candidates, by the way, would be terrific.

And I think they would probably win in their respective states -- in their respective states because they have been proven vote-getters, in the cause of Tim Pawlenty as governor. And Mitt Romney’s popularity in Utah is off the charts.

So, I wish they would run.

CAVUTO: All right.

PORTMAN: I think they would be good colleagues, good public servants.

But, no, other people will step up. And, you know, the math and the map works for Republicans this year, let’s be honest. There are about 10 Democrats up in states that Donald Trump or...

CAVUTO: In the Senate. In the Senate, right?



PORTMAN: That Mitt Romney won.

In the House, it’s -- it’s more problematic.

CAVUTO: All right.

PORTMAN: But, in the Senate, we should be OK, because, frankly, we only have a couple Republicans up in states -- only one up in a state that Hillary Clinton won.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch closely.

Senator, thanks for taking the time.

PORTMAN: Thanks, Neil. Great talking to you.

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