Tim Pawlenty, the first senior Republican to take the formal step to seek the party’s presidential nomination, brings some advantages into the 2012 race but national recognition isn’t one of them.
The former Minnesota governor’s low public profile puts him far behind other more established national party figures in the early courtship of voters, even though they remain undecided on whether to challenge President Barack Obama.
But a strong team and a personal narrative that fits the key election issues of jobs and deficit reduction will likely make the soft-spoken Pawlenty a more serious contender.
“He has a lot of assets. He’s likable. He’s from the Midwest. He had achievements as a Republican governor of a traditionally Democratic state,” said Barry Burden, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Pawlenty, 50, has visited the early primary state of New Hampshire regularly over the past year.
On Friday, he headlined the annual New Hampshire rally of the conservative Tea Party movement in the state capital Concord as part of an effort to become better known.
Pawlenty led the small crowd in a call-and-response of what he termed Obama’s broken promises on deficit reduction, health care and other topics. “Did President Obama break his promise? Yes, he did!,” Pawlenty said repeatedly.
“His name recognition in New Hampshire and nationally is still under 50 percent. He’s just not making a big impact right now. He’s not unpopular but he’s just not making a splash,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, North Carolina. “If he gets the nomination he will have backed into it, as the default,” he said.
Pawlenty spoke for 40 minutes to some 200 supporters in the New Hampshire town of Nashua on Thursday night and stayed late after the event to parry questions.
That approach will pay off over time, said Concord political consultant Richard Killion, who is working for Pawlenty in the state and worked for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the 2008 White House race.
“Voters here like to kick the tires of their candidates.”
The son of a Polish-American truck driver and a mother who died of cancer when he was 16, Pawlenty grew up in South St. Paul, Minnesota, whose major employer — the meat packing plant and stockyard — was closed in the 1960s.
‘KNOWN THE FACES’
“From an early age I’ve known the faces of people who have lost jobs,” he said in Nashua.
With national unemployment at almost 9 percent, jobs are a top campaign issue. Potential Republican rival Romney will face questions about his record as a corporate raider in the 1980s and as Massachusetts governor when his performance on employment was mixed at best.
Pawlenty, who was on Senator John McCain‘s short list for vice presidential running mate in 2008, has won plaudits for eliminating a $4.3 billion Minnesota budget deficit, although state Democrats challenge that record.
The North Carolina polling group’s survey of usual Republican primary voters in New Hampshire from early April put Pawlenty in sixth place, with only 4 percent saying they intended to vote for him. Nationally, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month showed him at 6 percent.
Romney, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and libertarian U.S. Representative Ron Paul were all ahead of Pawlenty in the PPL poll.
Still, with most voters not yet focused on 2012, that can quickly change.
“Pawlenty has done a great job on what I call ‘the first primary,'” said John Anzalone, Democratic strategist with Anzalone-Liszt Research in Montgomery, Alabama.
“He has built a serious structure, and that has made people view him as serious.”
Pawlenty this week hired Republican whiz kid Nick Ayers as campaign manager. Ayers, 28, is a former director of the Republican Governors Association. Also on board Pawlenty’s campaign are a well-respected pollster and political director.
A National Journal “Political Insiders Poll” has Pawlenty running second to Romney on the question of who is most likely to win the nomination.
The biggest challenge in the next few months will be for Pawlenty to elevate his fund-raising game.
“If he’s going to run with the big dogs, he has to show he can stay in the race,” said Burden.
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
4 thoughts on “Does Tim Pawlenty have the right stuff?”
With all these Conservative contenders; I am worried about Medicare., I have paid into this program since it was developed and I have accumulated a nest egg for my senior years.
I mentioned yesterday that Hospice has access to the Medicare accounts of terminally ill seniors. But this is not mentioned by the religious right who have little concern for the agony of many deaths. I’ve been told that Jesus suffered for all Christians and humans need to suffer for Jesus.
When I receive my Social Security check there is a deduction made by the SS of $100 per month to pay into Medicare. So even when I’m healthy and retired I still pay into Medicare. Do these wing-nuts even realize how much all of us have paid into this retirement plan? We are all part of a collective and we seem to approve of the situation.
I resent a group of Conservative religious nuts believing that the government can take from me my own money that has been put in my account from the beginning. They want to change the rules of individual social laws and enforce one law under one God on all American citizens.
I saw this develop after WW2 when the Birch Society tried to be the voice of the GOP. They certainly have patience and managed to slowing bring their religion into the city and county levels of government. Only parts of California were exposed to this madness but with the federal government wanting to run on a Jesus only agenda, not a single one of us will have full power over our choices.
Maybe we lost this fight by default. Being trained from birth to trust Christians gave us a false sense of power. Is there a school anywhere today who will teach of the failed European nations who failed under the power of the Pope?
Are we not sophisticated enough to recognize the bible and the Constitution and keep them separate? Is that too deep for the American people to be able to do?
Pawlenty is a pawn for the religious right and Donald Trump will follow as soon as he can learn more about how the American people live as Americans.
Hell, I can live without Medicare as my kids have money. I work for Hospice and tend to many really elderly seniors who will suffer without their monthly checks from S.S. Delaying the stop in payments is only a delay and our seniors will always need this income as guaranteed.
My God is in the humans who are suffering and need a team behind them. I live, love and survive just like the rest of you but I do not pray. I work to fix the problems. I am not the enemy of Christians but I am the enemy of people who abuse the weakest of our species to save a few dollars.
Hell, even here at CHB I will step when I think one of us is being abused irrationally. I felt I had to say a few words yesterday when the RRers went after Issodhos. I do not know the man and have never met him and have no desire to do so. He is arrogant and I hate to admit it but he is right on many of his points.
Not one of the candidates running as a Republican has a clue in hell about honest morality and rational integrity. But the American voter will go with whomever is suggested by their Ministers.
Our future as Americans will survive only if we stand up for our individual rights including our breeding habits and how we handle our choices.
Most people I know look at this guy and say “who”? Yep, he’s got a shot. I don’t think so.
America….The Land of Pawlenty?
Bury Mitt, Newt, Palin, and Trump. Please. Any one but these clowns.
Paint this turkey trump green,
so he can hide in the ditch unseen,
in lurking conservative style, obscene.
Start a war in his honor amongst his brethren imply,
With a pile of negative plenty,
cast him forth into the land of deny.
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