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Portman to play Obama in Romney's debate prep

BOSTON -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will reprise his role playing a Democratic candidate in debate prep, multiple sources tell NBC News.

Portman will play President Obama in debate preparations for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a role he played in 2008 in preparations for that year's nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Portman has been playing Democrats in debate preparation for nearly two decades, having assumed the roles of Al Gore, Joseph Lieberman and Hillary Clinton in previous elections.

Portman has long been a leading Romney surrogate on the campaign trail and the fundraising circuit, particularly in his native Ohio. He was considered an odds-on favorite to become Romney's Vice Presidential nominee until earlier this month, when Romney selected Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan instead.

In June, Obama campaign officials said that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) would play Romney in Obama's debate prep. Kerry has experience in presidential debates during his own ill-fated 2004 run. His familiarity with Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, were seen as logical reasons for the choice.

NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed reporting from Tampa, FL.