Thursday, January 20, 2011

MEET TIM PAWLENTY

Chatting with friends recently, we were banding about names for possible GOP candidates for 2012.  Most hoped that the field wouldn't be listed until January of next year, so as not to give the liberal media a heads up to begin bashing the candidates.  Names like Huckabee, Romney, Palin, Daniels, Jindal, Christie, and other notable Republicans were thrown into the mix. 

When I suggested that I like Tim Pawlenty for President I was met with resistance.  "He lacks charisma" some said, "He has no personality" said another.  One person even suggested he get a coach to teach him how to speak animatedly.  I was somewhat perturbed by the tone of the conversation because I have always believed that we voted for the man we felt to be best suited to govern our country and to lead it in the right direction. 


Barack Obama is said to have "charisma."  "Look where voting for charisma has gotten us," I said. "Well how about Marco Rubio, he's eye candy!"  And the chat went on and on.  Granted it was all being said in fun and jokes, but with a bit of seriousness tossed in now and then. Then, it started me thinking what is it that I want in a president? 



Just a regular guy
Later in the evening my brother called and asked me if I'd gotten a Kindle, to which I replied that I wasn't interested in one.  I spend a lot of time looking at an electronic screen as it is, when it comes to reading a book, I like to turn pages.  "That's because, like me, you're Old School!" he said.  I guess he's right and I'm old school about my politics too.  When it comes to choosing a presidential candidate, I want someone wholesome, wise, patriotic, experienced, honest,
conservative, fiscally responsible, intelligent, and the list of qualities goes on.  Most of all I want a president who loves the United States of America, who is proud of his country and doesn't need to apologize for it.


I believe that right now, Tim Pawlenty is the man who better suits that "old school" criteria of mine.  He might not have that "Wow factor," but I do believe he will be a great leader when and IF he decides to run for president. 


Here is an introduction to the real Tim Pawlenty by someone who has had the time to observe him and get to know him.




NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE    
The Quiet Contender
by Robert Costa




Governor Tim Pawlenty
Tim Pawlenty isn’t in the spotlight, yet. But he could charm voters in 2012.


As others kept their distance, Tim Pawlenty took a knee.


It was late, and most undergraduates had long since left the auditorium at George Washington University, but a lone young man in a wheelchair remained. He waited patiently near the door, his shoulders twitching. Flocks of coeds fluttered by. Minutes passed. Then, as Pawlenty finished his last handshake with a clean-cut College Republican, he noticed the fellow at the exit and approached him.


The student struggled to ask a question. Pawlenty, an athletic 50 year-old, dropped to his side. Behind him were empty pizza boxes and trash cans; his aides were watching the clock. But the former Minnesota governor’s eyes stayed fixed upon the face of the young man, who haltingly asked him about the tragedy in Tucson.


“Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who had loved ones who were lost or injured,” Pawlenty replied softly. “We are still heartbroken over that.” Their conversation continued for a couple of minutes, touching on the personal and the political. Pawlenty remained perched on the carpet, his tie and jacket rumpled.


For Pawlenty, it was a quiet moment — one of many I witnessed as I followed him around Washington last week. Out of office after serving two terms in Saint Paul, he has been making the rounds this month, talking up Courage to Stand, his new memoir, and winking at a potential 2012 presidential bid.


Pawlenty’s promotional tour, of course, has coincided with days of half-staff flags — a publicist’s nightmare. Copies of the tome aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. Yet the timing has strangely been a boon for Pawlenty. His low-key Midwestern persona — often scorned by Beltway politicos as flat and tepid — has garnered attention, even accolades, for being just that.


Gov. Pawlenty and Jon Stewart


Pawlenty did not take the bait. Rather than paint himself as a Tea Party spokesman, or as a chin-pulling critic of the movement, he noted that behind such heavy words lay real political differences, not just ammunition for partisan battle. He pushed back on Stewart’s premise, turning the interview away from a discourse on discourse toward a back-and-forth on policy.


Addressing CPAC
“I think there are a lot of us in the conservative movement who view government — whether it is personalized to Barack Obama or anyone else — as government that crowds into more space that used to be for individuals, that used to be for private markets, that used to be for charity, that used to be for entrepreneurial activity, that used to be for faith organizations,” Pawlenty said. “There are a lot of us who say, ‘you know, that feels like government stepping on us, pushing us to the side.’ There is a continuum between liberty and tyranny, and sometimes it happens very incrementally.”


For the next few minutes, Stewart kept digging for newsy red meat, but Pawlenty never dished it. By mid-interview, the comic recognized that across from him sat a debate partner, a Republican willing to wrangle on tax rates, the size of government, and the federal deficit — not a polarizing bomb-thrower. So he kept Pawlenty on-set for an extended confab, far beyond what he could air.

As the chat closed, Stewart leaned across the table. “You know what’s crazy? I don’t think you and I disagree that much.#…#Do we?” he asked. To which Pawlenty deadpanned, “Yeah.” Both chuckled.

At GW, Pawlenty recounted the exchange. “We had a great discussion. It uncharacteristically went serious — away from the normal comedy routine,” he recalled, as students munched on greasy slices. “I respect [Stewart], he’s smart — he does his homework.”

The audience, mostly collegiate conservatives, nodded and perked up. They may not have known much about Pawlenty, but this early impression was, if anything, different: soft-spoken, earnest, and extemporaneous — the opposite of a glad-handing salesman.

Tim Pawlenty and daughter Anna
By approaching political action with strong principles and an open hand, Pawlenty predicted that the GOP could make major gains in coming years. “Our party needs to understand that we need to connect with people who have not yet joined our team,” he said. “That does not mean that we run around and pretend we are Democrats or liberals.” Instead, he said, the GOP’s future success rests in making a “hopeful and optimistic” case, with a “can-do and constructive spirit.”

With progressives still roosting in Washington, holding onto the Senate and White House, Republicans, Pawlenty argued, need to do more than criticize — they have to be strategic and civil. “I got a lot of experience doing that in Minnesota,” he mused. “It’s a pretty liberal place; it’s a place where Al Franken is a U.S. senator. I mean, think about that.” Still, creating villains out of political opponents, he cautioned, will keep Republican ranks thin.

Pawlenty turned to a theme that has propelled his political career — that the GOP should be the party of Sam’s Club, not the country club. “We don’t want to go to people who are hurting or in doubt, maybe challenged in ways that we don’t directly understand, to condemn and to judge and to scare them,” he said. “We’ve got to identify the problem, but we’ve also got to identify the solution — to say there is a way forward, there is a way out, there is a better way.”

Pawlenty’s recommendation got polite applause. Some, of course, resisted his neighborly charm. At the Q-and-A following the speech, one cheeky student flicked at the governor’s at-ease, Minnesota-nice politics. “Some pundits don’t think that you could be president, and see you more as a vice president,” he said. “Would you be the vice-presidential nominee for the GOP?”

It was a direct citation of the central rap on Pawlenty — that he’s too milquetoast to lead a ticket. The College Republican organizer looked horrified. Yet the governor grinned and ate it up. “If I decided to run, it would be for president, not for vice president.” At that, the students gave him the biggest cheer of the night — one worthy of a contender.

Winning over skeptics will be the crucial challenge for Pawlenty as he eyes a presidential run. Unlike many of his potential rivals, Pawlenty has little baggage. Some could quibble with certain gubernatorial decisions — such as the time he raised cigarette fees to reach a budget deal — but his overall governing record is strong: He resolved a $4.5 billion deficit in his first term, instituted performance pay for public-school teachers, cut billions from public-employee pensions, and issued 299 vetoes. For his efforts, the libertarian Cato Institute gave him an “A” rating on its biennial fiscal report card.

In recent weeks, Pawlenty has brandished his reputation as a fiscal hawk and social conservative. On Sunday he called on Republicans to not raise the federal-debt ceiling, which now stands at $14.3 trillion. “You’ve got to draw some lines in the sand,” he said on Fox News Sunday. And on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the just-repealed military policy on homosexuality, Pawlenty said last week that he would fight to reinstate the policy should he become president.

Beyond his record, Pawlenty’s hardscrabble upbringing is what resonates most. Pawlenty grew up near the stockyards of South Saint Paul. Hockey, and all of its bruising glory, was his passion. His father worked in trucking. Then, at age 16, his mother was taken by cancer. Before she passed, she pushed him to be the first in the family to attend college.

After working his way through college and law school at the University of Minnesota, Pawlenty ran for the state legislature, where he soon rose to become majority leader. He was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006, a tough year for Republicans, especially those in blue states. In 2008, John McCain put Pawlenty on his veep shortlist, giving him a brief flicker in the national spotlight.

But he has not managed to catch fire since. In the early states, Pawlenty has languished in the single digits: One Public Policy Polling survey shows him at 4 percent among Iowa Republicans; a Magellan poll has him at 4 percent in New Hampshire. Gallup also shows that he is hardly a known figure to most Republicans nationwide.

Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman and Pawlenty’s senior adviser, tells me that the early enthusiasm gap can be overcome. Pawlenty, he says, offers something different than the rest — Upper Midwestern values, eight years as a successful, conservative state executive, and a background that resonates with voters who are frustrated with Washington.

“I’ve known Tim Pawlenty since he was in college; I know his family — they’re blue-collar people,” Weber says. “What he is saying is that the Republican party had those voters when Ronald Reagan was president, and when George W. Bush was president, early on, only to lose them. Now we’ve got to get them back in 2012 and he’s the guy to do it. If Republicans can’t explain why conservative policies are right for average, working-class people, then we’ll be consigned to being a permanent minority.”

Governor and Mrs. Pawlenty
— Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.

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22 Comments:

At March 22, 2011 at 1:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay

 
At April 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is capable of a difficult decision. He knows how to manage and lead. He will make our county stronger and more respected. I will vote for him

 
At April 25, 2011 at 9:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Texas and I would like to know more about Gov Pawlenty. Towards the end I will make my decission between Mitt Romney and Gov Pawlenty, it depends of course on who will win the Republican's Party nomination.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to be very suspicious of anyone from a liberal state like Minnesota. Look at what we get from pseudo conservatives like Romney and Scott Brown. I won't cross him off the list yet, but I want to know a lot more about him first. Saying don't raise the debt ceiling is a good first impression, but Brown was against Obamacare to get elected and see where he is now. Trust but verify.

 
At May 6, 2011 at 10:11 AM , Anonymous Jackie said...

How can you be against the federal government being all up in our business, but want to reinstate DADT? Don't understand the logic there.

 
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