Pawlenty on when he decided he wanted to be president: I … don’t know

posted at 9:05 pm on May 19, 2011 by Allahpundit

This is actually a “why do you want to be president?” question dressed up as a “when.” In which case, the correct answer is: “Because I’m an ambitious young politician.” The base-pleasing answer, of course, is: “Because America deserves better than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.” And the general-election-winning answer is: “Because both parties have neglected the middle class over the past 20 years and it’s time for that to stop.” Either of those latter two responses would have been fine.

But he … didn’t give them.

And when I ask Pawlenty, during a second interview in Des Moines, Iowa, exactly when he decided he was up to the grand challenge of the presidency, he answers in less than grandiose terms, explaining how he’d set up a political-action committee in 2009. I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage’s harsh toll. “I don’t know,” he replies. “I wish I had a good answer for you on that.” Pawlenty says it is not an idea that crossed his mind 15 or 20 years ago but that as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and “go make some money and play hockey and drink beer.” He adds that he almost didn’t run at all. “Mary and I talked about this at length, and many times, and it was a close call,” he says, mentioning his wife of 24 years. He adds with a laugh, “It could have gone the other way for all the reasons you’re suggesting.”…

“He gets ripped for not being Mr. Charisma,” says Weaver. “But what you see is what you get. I think that’s what voters want these days. They might be willing to sacrifice a little glitz for someone who’s real and can accomplish things.” And if Republicans don’t insist on a street-fighting candidate, it’s always possible that the nicest guy will finish first.

In fairness, would Romney’s or Huntsman’s response be any more convincing? The one major candidate who’s positioned to answer this question in a semi-believable way is Daniels, whose CPAC speech cannily framed him as a guy so alarmed by the “red menace” of debt that he might feel obliged to run for president to help defeat it. (Paul Ryan could make the same argument even more persuasively.) Herman Cain has a good answer potentially too, that career politicians have wrecked American government so thoroughly that it’ll take a first-time officeholder to shake the country out of its stupor. Either way, the bar for answering well enough to win an election is awwwwfully low: The One’s own raison d’etre for running for president after two years in the Senate and a decade as an Illinois backbencher was nothing more than personal messianism. Elect him, we were told, and the economy would rebound, the oceans would cease to rise, and celestial choirs would sing. After that absurdity, who cares how anyone answers this question?

I continue to believe that T-Paw will slog along at 6-10 percent until the winter, when he’ll suddenly get a second look from people dissatisfied with the rest of the field. And if that’s not enough to push him over the top in Iowa, the Iowa winner will so alarm the GOP establishment that they’ll rally behind Pawlenty before New Hampshire as an electable moderate capable of bringing the base onboard. He’s got a solid shot at winning Nikki Haley’s endorsement, so he’s well positioned in South Carolina if he can make it that far. What could go wrong?


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T-Paw, the most boring guy to hit the scene… since I can’t remember when.

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Feel the passion!!

MikeknaJ on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 PM

He’s got a solid shot at winning Nikki Haley’s endorsement, so he’s well positioned in South Carolina if he can make it that far. What could go wrong?

For Pawlenty, Herman Cain is what could go wrong.

AUINSC on May 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

He’s not running for President. He’s running for Vice-President. Like Bachmann.

Marcus on May 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

So, is this worse than if he’d said that God told him to run?

Is this worse than if he’d said that he’d always wanted to be president, ever since he was six?

“as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and go make some money and play hockey and drink beer.”

I guess I don’t see anything wrong with “it seemed like the next logical step for me.”

notropis on May 19, 2011 at 9:11 PM

TIME magazine sucks!!!

mjbrooks3 on May 19, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Well I guess Mitt Romney needs some one else at the debates. At this rate the debates are going to turn into interviews. Or maybe a couple of guys sitting around the table shooting the breeze.

Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are the only ones with fire in their belly. And either of them will do. Actually that’s not a bad ticket.

petunia on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

T-Paw, the most boring guy to hit the scene… since I can’t remember when.

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 PM

After the excitement of Obamania, I’ll happily take boring ol’ T-Paw. He may not be exciting but he’s got a good record and the right attitude toward fiscal solvency. If he endorses the Ryan plan, he’ll be hard to beat.

I do like Herman Cain, and I might tolerate Daniels. We’ll see how this election season goes.

Caiwyn on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

He’s not running for President. He’s running for Vice-President. Like Bachmann.

Marcus on May 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

He seems about as smart as Biden.

tetriskid on May 19, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Tim Pawlenty-Not the worst choice!

mchristian on May 19, 2011 at 9:14 PM

T-Paw is my establishment pick. He better get better or we’re all sunk.

portlandon on May 19, 2011 at 9:14 PM

Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are the only ones with fire in their belly. And either of them will do. Actually that’s not a bad ticket.

petunia on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Cain I can dig. But if Romney gets the nom, you’ll have to convince me not to stay home. His image is great and he seems like a good guy overall, but his record is AWFUL and he refuses to own up to its awfulness.

Caiwyn on May 19, 2011 at 9:14 PM

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Global warming?
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Why can’t we piecemeal a candidate?

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

I do like Herman Cain, and I might tolerate Daniels. We’ll see how this election season goes.

Caiwyn on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Tax and Cap Tim, may be boring, but gosh darn.. he will keep you on your toes concerning your money vs the EPA!

Do you really want someone who thinks that the EPA should control emissions out of your house?

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Uh oh, he’s deader than Ben Laden. Yeppers, it was nice knowin’ ya.

/s

MJBrutus on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

I’m more than willing to cut the guy some slack on this. I mean, come on. We’re reaching the point where we expect Mr or Ms Perfect Conservobot as a candidate.

pseudoforce on May 19, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Caiwyn on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

What you said. Maybe we need a boring technocrat who can get our fiscal house in order.

rbj on May 19, 2011 at 9:18 PM

ooooo….Nickky Haley’s endorsement.
Well that settles it then. s/

tencole on May 19, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Why can’t we piecemeal a candidate?

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Franken-publican?

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:18 PM

What could go wrong

For Pawlenty, the obvious answer would seem to be “Palin runs, exceeds expectations and leaves him an also-ran.”

But, I guess we’ll see….

cs89 on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Why can’t we piecemeal a candidate?

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM
Franken-publican?

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:18 PM

I was thinking Franken-Con, but that would work as well.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM

If you believe the theory that people look for polar opposites when replacing a failed President, then maybe Pawlenty gets some traction on this boring personality stuff as it gets closer. Especially with anyone that actually bought the Obama charisma canard last time.

stldave on May 19, 2011 at 9:21 PM

You might also recall that Pawlenty didn’t especially want to be governor. That magnificent bastard, Karl Rove, convinced him to step aside in his run for Senate, for Norm Coleman — and now we have Senator Franken….

notropis on May 19, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Do any of these guys actually want to win?

WisCon on May 19, 2011 at 9:21 PM

I was thinking Franken-Con, but that would work as well.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM

that works too. Alrighty off to class. :) poke meaty for me.

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM

I’m more than willing to cut the guy some slack on this. I mean, come on. We’re reaching the point where we expect Mr or Ms Perfect Conservobot as a candidate.

pseudoforce on May 19, 2011 at 9:16 PM

A run of the mill factory certified GOP candidate isn’t going to deal with the financial crisis we are facing. What would be the point of electing a zilch like that?

sharrukin on May 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Maybe he and Fred! can work up a rousing game of foosball.

davidk on May 19, 2011 at 9:23 PM

I was thinking Franken-Con, but that would work as well.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM
that works too. Alrighty off to class. :) poke meaty for me.

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Will do. Good to see you, Alaska.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:24 PM

You might also recall that Pawlenty didn’t especially want to be governor. That magnificent bastard, Karl Rove, convinced him to step aside in his run for Senate, for Norm Coleman — and now we have Senator Franken….

notropis on May 19, 2011 at 9:21 PM

I had forgotten about that. Grrrr.

Kataklysmic on May 19, 2011 at 9:26 PM

what a putz. doesn’t even know why/when he wants to be POTUS?

the correct answer would have been when I saw the out of control spending by the gop during the Bush years i started to thing hard ablut running for POTUS to return this country to the prosperity of the 80′s. Once Obama and is insane spending got into the WH my mind was 100% made up. I will return this country to its fiscal healthy if elected something we have forgotten for the last 20 years.

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 9:28 PM

Pawlenty has been boasting about his “A” grade from Cato, but Katrina Trinko puts his grade into perspective and also rates the other governor contenders.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/267593/grading-pawlenty-katrina-trinko

onlineanalyst on May 19, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Time Mr. Nice Guy
===================

UGH!

Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy
************************************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIe6rXmsUwk

canopfor on May 19, 2011 at 9:31 PM

T-Paw is like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Without the surprise or passion.

Is he bored? Does he think we’re all like Minnesotans who are grateful not to have a muscle-bound lunatic screaming at them or a curious Marxist with an unrevealed past preaching self-sacrifice while he golfs endlessly and his fat, unseemly wife works off a couple of calories doing the Hoola Hoop on the WH lawn after eating endless goodies?

Hasn’t it occurred to him that he can find work elsewhere? Maybe he can help Al Bore with that flagging Climate Change thingy?

I somehow get the distinct impression that T-Paw is looking for his next stop but does not have the solid conservative creds, much less appeal, that will inspire a nation that desperately needs an American leader.

Cody1991 on May 19, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Listening to Pawlenty is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

TonyR on May 19, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Listening to Pawlenty is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

TonyR on May 19, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Well in the paints defense at least it dries.

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 9:34 PM

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 9:28 PM

Perfect answer. Problem is if Pawlenty had the balls to give it, he wouldn’t have to. If you know what I mean.

Kataklysmic on May 19, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Pawlenty has been boasting about his “A” grade from Cato, but Katrina Trinko puts his grade into perspective and also rates the other governor contenders.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/267593/grading-pawlenty-katrina-trinko

onlineanalyst on May 19, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Another governor who received an A from Cato? Florida’s Charlie Crist.

Sounds to me like those CATO grades are worth next to nothing.

sharrukin on May 19, 2011 at 9:36 PM

For Pawlenty, Herman Cain is what could go wrong.

AUINSC on May 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Bingo! Thanks, home boy….. from home girl. ;)

I spoke with Herman Cain a couple of years ago. He’s a terrific person. Lovely. Smart. Personable. My kind of man.

Can he make it? I don’t know, but I’d vote for him in a heartbeat ahead of Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – Paw.

Cody1991 on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Fortunately for him, the HotAir regulars don’t care for him. It means he’s actually got a chance to get the nomination. He cleared the first hurdle.

RBMN on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Kataklysmic on May 19, 2011 at 9:34 PM

so true.

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 9:39 PM

He cleared the first hurdle.

RBMN on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

What hurdle? That he can’t quite figure out why he even wants to be president? He sounds like Obama as far as that goes. Obama seems to be a little confused as to what he’s doing in the White House as well.

sharrukin on May 19, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Fortunately for him, the HotAir regulars don’t care for him. It means he’s actually got a chance to get the nomination. He cleared the first hurdle.

RBMN on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Not so fast. I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that Pawlenty is way ahead of Daniels, Romney, Huntsman, Gingrich, and all the other various and sundry “serious” candidates in my book.

Kataklysmic on May 19, 2011 at 9:43 PM

Cody1991 on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Thank you sis…great minds think alike…must be something in the water.

AUINSC on May 19, 2011 at 9:48 PM

He’s got a solid shot at winning Nikki Haley’s endorsement,

Then he better hope Palin doesn’t get in. Haley likely isn’t governor without Palin’s endorsement and propping her up. She owes her, so if SP runs, Haley endorses her or stays out of it. At least that’s my view.

Shotgun Messiah on May 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM

I was thinking Franken-Con, but that would work as well.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Conserva-Stein (The Franken part made me shiver)

darwin-t on May 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM

I’d actually probably pick Pawlenty out of the current group. Maybe Cain.

I’d imagine if you polled most Republicans and asked them to rate the candidates 1 through whatever, Pawlenty would be middle of the pack or a little better on most of them. And be the absolute top on less than 10%. Maybe 5%. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure that he and Cain would have the lowest percentages of people that rated them at the very bottom.

That probably says it all about his personality, but it may not be such a bad thing.

“Pawlenty 2012: Yeah, I guess I’ll show up and vote for him.”

stldave on May 19, 2011 at 9:51 PM

electable moderate

NO. SUCH. THING. Gonna take somebody with balls that actually believes in something. squishy RINO…”moderates” ain’t gonna cut it!

winston on May 19, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Well, this answer doesn’t bother me, as it’s hard to get worked up over Zzz-Paw. I mean, there’s got to be a nit picking limit on these candidates. Althouuuugh…

he felt obliged not to take the easy path and “go make some money and play hockey and drink beer.”

This rubs me the wrong way.

Dongemaharu on May 19, 2011 at 10:02 PM

he felt obliged not to take the easy path and “go make some money and play hockey and drink beer.”

This rubs me the wrong way.

Dongemaharu on May 19, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Minnesota culture rubs you the wrong way?

RBMN on May 19, 2011 at 10:10 PM

the RNC’s answer to the dems rock star? Mr. boring……and the really funny thing is people in DC think this is a great idea. Now I know how they came up with the idea of turning our food into gasoline.

freaking idiots

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Not so fast. I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that Pawlenty is way ahead of Daniels, Romney, Huntsman, Gingrich, and all the other various and sundry “serious” candidates in my book.

Kataklysmic on May 19, 2011 at 9:43 PM

For those of us who care about legal and illegal immigration, he scores the second highest grade from Numbers USA behind Bachmann. He’s got like a C+ and everyone else is either a D- or F. I know I’m starting take a second look.

TxAnn56 on May 19, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are the only ones with fire in their belly. And either of them will do. Actually that’s not a bad ticket.

petunia on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Mitt??? Fire in the Belly…. AHAHAHAHAHAHA
AHAHAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You never know what his position is on any issue. Come on.

Fire in the belly…

Pause…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

If you support Mitt you are going to be laughed at a lot. At least here. Come on.

PS: Don’t insult Herman Cain by mentioning him in the same breat as Mitt.

antisocial on May 19, 2011 at 10:26 PM

A run of the mill factory certified GOP candidate isn’t going to deal with the financial crisis we are facing. What would be the point of electing a zilch like that?

sharrukin on May 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM

There are reasons for passing up on Pawlenty, but the topic of this thread isn’t one of them. As others have pointed out, he’s really running for VP anyway.

pseudoforce on May 19, 2011 at 10:27 PM

the RNC’s answer to the dems rock star? Mr. boring……and the really funny thing is people in DC think this is a great idea. Now I know how they came up with the idea of turning our food into gasoline.

freaking idiots

unseen on May 19, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Actually, ethanol production was Pawlenty’s sneaky plan to get Minnesota farmers to vote for him, but don’t tell anybody. If you don’t get the votes, you don’t get to do anything. But nationally, ethanol’s not much of an issue anymore. That’s politics. There’s going to be pandering going on.

RBMN on May 19, 2011 at 10:27 PM

I was thinking Franken-Con, but that would work as well.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 PM
Conserva-Stein (The Franken part made me shiver)

darwin-t on May 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Yeah. That is BETTER…don’t want to accidently make a monster with big lips and no brain.

HornetSting on May 19, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are the only ones with fire in their belly. And either of them will do. Actually that’s not a bad ticket.

petunia on May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Sarah Palin just told Greta that she has the fire in her belly.

steebo77 on May 19, 2011 at 10:37 PM

I am not going to bust his chops here for that answer, it was HONEST.

But it DOES explain why we think he is a tepid candidate. He does not have that burning “call” down to his bones to do this.

What cabinet position would be good for him? I am not that convinced he ads anything to the ticket as a VP. Would he bring MN to the table if he is on the ballot? Dunno.

karenhasfreedom on May 19, 2011 at 11:12 PM

T Paw is just the guy to bring home a good 45-46% of the popular vote and about 160 EV’s.

Of course when he was elected Guv in Minny that was all he needed thanks to to a lefty 3rd party candidate.

Can we count on Russ Fiengold bringing the WH home for Timmy?

No, didn’t think so either.

Bruno Strozek on May 20, 2011 at 12:15 AM

When did he decide to run for POTUS? Probably about a week before he publicly changed his pro Cap & Tax and his pro Man made global warming positions…

Gohawgs on May 20, 2011 at 2:04 AM

“I like that.’I Don’t Know.’. That’s nice. ‘Mr. Hand GOP Primary Voter, will I pass this class get your vote?’ Gee, Mr. Spicoli Governor Pawlenty, I don’t know! You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to leave your words right up here for all my classes the Hot Air posters to enjoy, giving you full credit of course, Mr. Spicoli Governor Pawlenty.”

SuperCool on May 20, 2011 at 2:40 AM

Let’s face it: “Excitement” and “Minnesota” aren’t really two words that work naturally together. Of course, Prince was from the Twin Cities, but unless Pawlenty gets a gelled up pompadour and starts wearing purple jumpsuits …

The Other McCain on May 20, 2011 at 3:39 AM

Tax and Cap Tim, may be boring, but gosh darn.. he will keep you on your toes concerning your money vs the EPA!

Do you really want someone who thinks that the EPA should control emissions out of your house?

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Nah. We should go with someone who went even further. One that not only advocated for carbon caps but increased taxes on domestic oil producers for the purpose of “spreading the wealth around” in the form of annual welfare payments paid to everybody!

Hollowpoint on May 20, 2011 at 5:20 AM

Mittbots are predictable, as well as unimaginative…

Gohawgs on May 20, 2011 at 5:38 AM

T-Paw, the most boring guy to hit the scene… since I can’t remember when.

upinak on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Boring isn’t always a killer. Gore came close to winning, despite being a bore. W’s dad won in ’88 (I know, different era) despite underwhelming the electorate.

Strategically speaking, I think T-Paw has a great chance.

crushliberalism on May 20, 2011 at 8:53 AM