Pawlenty: 2012 will come down to credibility and emotional connection

posted at 10:12 am on July 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

It’s still too early to start picking sides for the 2012 Republican nomination, but Tim Pawlenty points out an interesting conundrum likely to occur in the primaries.  As the Weekly Standard reports, Pawlenty discusses some policy positions and puts a little distance between himself and Mitch Daniels on pro-life issues.  However, in the face of a radical Democratic agenda, the GOP candidates will likely all agree on the biggest priorities, such as repealing ObamaCare, taxes, and spending, with most of the differences amounting to nibbling at the edges.  What will differentiate candidates in a time of consensus?

But in the end, Pawlenty said, there won’t be much difference between GOP presidential candidates on the issues. He said it’s important to have a presidential candidate who doesn’t live up to the stereotype that Republicans are “all CEOs” who “play polo on the weekends.” Pawlenty made the case that his background as the son of a truck driver who worked his way through college helps him reach out to working class voters, who are turned off by “country club elitists.”

“In the end, there’s going to be five, ten, twelve candidates standing on the stage who, at least for now, all look kind of the same… And they’re going to say about the same thing” on the issues, he said. “But the real question’s going to be, as to tone and face and credibility, who is best situated to open the door to people that are not yet Republicans? To say, we understand what you’re going through and we can make a connection with you in ways that have some credibility?”

It’s a good question.  Right now, in the abstract, most people support ABO — Anyone But Obama.  And no one has to make up their mind for at least a year beyond that.  At some point, though, people will have to make a choice, and the tension of trying to demonstrate change from an unpopular Republican administration won’t exist.  If the economy still lags by then, the GOP candidates will likely remain united on policy and priorities.

So how to choose?  Will we indeed need to open the door to the Big Tent, or will a base turnout model be enough?  The latter worked in 2004 to re-elect George Bush, but that worked in part because voters are reluctant to change horses in midstream — an inertia that the GOP will also have to overcome in 2012.  Only two of the last seven elected presidents failed to win a second term, Carter and Bush 41, even with strong economic problems for Nixon and Reagan.

Pawlenty is probably right that the GOP nominee has to have the ability to reach out to independents if Republicans want to beat Obama, or at least keep independents from voting for Obama.  However, I think the attraction will be executive competence, not the tension between “country-club elitists” and their counterparts among the hoi polloi.  Republicans don’t play class warfare well, but the GOP has a winning argument on competence and the lack of it in the Obama administration.  After the disaster of this White House, voters on the fence will want to feel as though a challenger has already demonstrated he or she can handle the job.  And that will pull independents who may need objective and emotional reasons to offer trust to the Republicans in 2012.

Update: John McCormack reported on a Pawlenty appearance, and didn’t conduct an interview with him.  I misunderstood that when reading the article, which was entirely my error.


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The response was that any candidate for the GOP will be equally damaged because they’ll all get the Palin treatment…and any perceived weakness or hitch will be highlighted and made an issue by the press so stop pretending like we’ll pick a candidate the media and the left (BIRM) won’t savage.

That was the point and it’s a valid one.

powerpro on July 27, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Exactly. You see, Bradky’s gone to the DKos School of Dishonest Arguments.

ddrintn on July 27, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Some here have decided that we do not need a candidate with emotional appeal, that somehow a pure intellectual is what we truly need. However, I believe that is a shot-sighted belief. When I was growing up, I still remember the Great Communicator rallying the American people to Conservative ideals, and reinforcing American Exceptionalism which had dimmed over the Carter years. We need that communicator now more than ever.

It is not enough to win the election. Afterwards there will be difficult decisions to make and the case must be presented to the American people to support. A dry intellectual can never fulfill this role and we will squander our opportunity!

dominigan on July 27, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I try to avoid the mirror.

Bradky on July 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Must….not…..reply…..

portlandon on July 27, 2010 at 12:32 PM

dominigan on July 27, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I think our current president proves your comment. At least from the view of his own supporters. The rest of us knew a phony when we saw one.

Cindy Munford on July 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Maybe we can reverse mortgage California and New York?

bitsy on July 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Better do it while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still around.

Because no one else is a big enough sucker to buy that “investment”

JohnGalt23 on July 27, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Pawlenty is probably right that the GOP nominee has to have the ability to reach out to independents ….. However, I think the attraction will be executive competence

Unfortunately both quotes imply a willingness to pander to Independents in spite of their complete fickleness – and at the cost of the GOP base. It sort of sounds like the GOP should do anything it takes to get in office and worry about disappointing the voters later – isn’t that what Obama did and what RINOs do?

Why does the GOP think it can win with a bland bureucrat who tries to offend no one? Do we really want to elect pencil pushers vice leaders? Not saying an ideologue would be our best choice but some seem to want a middle-management techno-grunt.

katiejane on July 27, 2010 at 10:44 AM

GFT.

That sorta raised a red flag with me as well. Maybe it is just the nightmares I still get from hearing constantly those words ‘My Friends’. Yeah, as I recall John McCain and assorted others have tried reaching across the aisle and what it usually meant was crossing over to the other side.

sharrukin on July 27, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I meant QTF “Quoted For Truth”

sharrukin on July 27, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Some here have decided that we do not need a candidate with emotional appeal, that somehow a pure intellectual is what we truly need. However, I believe that is a shot-sighted belief. When I was growing up, I still remember the Great Communicator rallying the American people to Conservative ideals, and reinforcing American Exceptionalism which had dimmed over the Carter years. We need that communicator now more than ever.

It is not enough to win the election. Afterwards there will be difficult decisions to make and the case must be presented to the American people to support. A dry intellectual can never fulfill this role and we will squander our opportunity!

dominigan on July 27, 2010 at 12:27 PM

This is a good point. I mentioned in an earlier comment that marketing is a necessary part of the whole quest to win the election. It is a LOT easier to market someone with personality and charisma than someone who does not have those qualities. And this is not a new thing. Throughout history, people have responded to leaders with a certain magnetism. Sometimes that hasn’t worked out so well, but other times, it has. An ability to connect and get people talking and excited is NOT a bad thing. You can have the best ideas in the world, but if no one is willing to listen to them, it’s moot.

As a matter of fact, I was just reading an old Time article in their archives just the other day that touched on this subject. They were talking about Bush the Elder tossing his hat in the ring for 1980. They conceded he had many of the necessary qualities: A pedigree, a prestigious resume, smarts, solutions to problems. But they also acknowledged that he lacked the ability that his opponent Reagan had to really fire people up, and that this would be a serious handicap for him in the race.

We sadly have a lot of Bush Sr.’s in our ranks. People can pooh-pooh Palin’s star power all day long, but the reality is, it will be a factor. And a big one, esp. as she goes up against the Madison Avenue-generated Obama Inc.

Maybe the only other person I can think of right now who is as entertaining when he speaks is Chris Christie. He’d be my next choice after Palin if he were to run, although I don’t think he’s interested at this juncture. And although I throw up in my mouth a little when I type this, Huckabee has an ability to connect with audiences as well. I think he’s a total phony, of course, but many people don’t see that and think highly of him.

NoLeftTurn on July 27, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Dark-Star: I can not believe,that you left out the
SarahCudians!!!!!!!

canopfor on July 27, 2010 at 11:21 AM
===============================
Henceforth, we prefer to be called “Grizzlies”

Grrrrrr! *handclaw motion*

:D

bitsy on July 27, 2010 at 11:41 AM

bitsy:Hear,hear,PalinBots means a ZombieStyleBot,which I
detest,SarahCudian is a Sarah Palin supporter,and
not,ugh,a worshipper!!!

GrizzlyCudas,tee-hee!!!———:)

canopfor on July 27, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Why does the GOP think it can win with a bland bureucrat who tries to offend no one? Do we really want to elect pencil pushers vice leaders? Not saying an ideologue would be our best choice but some seem to want a middle-management techno-grunt.

katiejane on July 27, 2010 at 10:44 AM

I’ll say it: an unapologetic ideologue would be our best choice.

Cylor on July 27, 2010 at 2:46 PM

An unapologetic idealogue loses you the election.

Meredith on July 27, 2010 at 3:05 PM

An unapologetic idealogue loses you the election.

Meredith on July 27, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Nationally? Not since 1964, when Jesus Himself couldn’t have beaten LBJ.

ddrintn on July 27, 2010 at 3:12 PM

^ On the other hand, we certainly have a sterling record when it comes to running “moderates” nationally, don’t we? Yeah.

ddrintn on July 27, 2010 at 3:14 PM

An unapologetic idealogue loses you the election.

Meredith on July 27, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Considering we haven’t tried it since Reagan, what’s your supporting evidence for this claim?

Cylor on July 27, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Sorry, but T-Paw is not the man.

This is a squish who wanted to set up a regional cap and trade deal, and as it has been pointed out, stood by and the ACORN/Franken steal the election. He’s probably a squish on illegals too.

I’m sure he is a fine and decent man, but he’s no leader.

We all know there is only one person who fits the bill as a constitutional conservative who has a career long record of taking corruption head on, and cleaning up big messes.

It just so happens SHE has the most executive experience, and the most varied resume.

We need a fighter, not a squish. Sarah has proven that she can take anything anybody throws at her, and hit back twice as hard.

You had the entire “mainstream media” conspiring to take her down, and that’s been an epic failure. Obama wets himself when he hears her name.

Sorry, but we’d be foolish to even consider any of the current crop of GOP show ponies. None of them measure up to the task at hand. Sarah does.

gary4205 on July 27, 2010 at 3:38 PM

An unapologetic idealogue loses you the election.

Meredith on July 27, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Tell that to Ronald Reagan

gary4205 on July 27, 2010 at 3:42 PM

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