07/12/2012 07:06 pm ET Updated Jul 12, 2012

John McCain Jokes: Rob Portman 'Is A Jerk'

Is Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) really the "anti-Palin"? If you ask Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the man who plucked Sarah Palin out of relative obscurity in 2008, the answer is that Portman is actually something else -- "a jerk."

McCain was, of course, joking when he gave reporters on Capitol Hill a few candid comments on Portman, who is increasingly considered a favorite among Mitt Romney's short list of vice presidential picks.

"Well, I know [Portman] is a jerk. I've hated him," McCain told reporters on Thursday when asked if Portman represents the "anti-Palin." "He's the anti-decent behavior."

But after a few laughs, McCain turned more serious about Portman.

"I love the guy. He's wonderful, he's smart," McCain said. "He really understands budgetary issues. I think he's a really incredible guy in many respects."

Portman, who met with Romney campaign officials earlier this week while in Boston, has repeatedly downplayed any vice presidential speculation. But former Bill Clinton adviser Paul Begala recently made a case for why he thinks Portman will be Romney's vice presidential pick, while cautioning that the Ohio senator would need to be the "anti-Palin" -- someone who will not overshadow the presumptive Republican nominee or "blow up in his face."

Still, McCain, despite being quoted as referring to Portman as "vice president" just last month, said he couldn't answer whether Romney should choose Portman as his running mate: "I can't," he said. "I just can't."