Suddenly, everybody loves Pawlenty

posted at 10:05 am on August 15, 2011 by Tina Korbe

For the duration of his presidential campaign, Gov. Tim Pawlenty struggled to inspire any kind of enthusiasm in the electorate. On the debate stage, he struggled to command the respect and awe of either his fellow candidates or the crowd. Now, it looks like his decision to withdraw his presidential bid did what his campaign never could. It tapped into a results-and-record-based respect for the guy who wanted nothing more than to be evaluated on his ideas and experience rather than his image (which, despite his best efforts, always remained dull). In fact, a few folks on Twitter just said it outright: Pawlenty’s decision to withdraw — principled and pragmatic as it was — reminded them of why he would actually have made a good president.

It might also have helped Pawlenty to build momentum if voters could only have known just how highly his competitors thought of him. Consider:

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain tweeted that Pawlenty was “one of the kindest” of his Republican opponents for the 2012 presidential nomination while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said in a statement that Pawlenty was “someone of tremendous character.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the focus of many of Pawlenty’s attacks, praised the ex-governor of Minnesota for running “an honorable campaign.”

“I admire his accomplishments as a two-term governor with a record of results for his state,” Romney went on in a statement. “I consider him a friend, and I know he has a bright future ahead of him as a leader of the Republican Party.”

Even Michele Bachmann, Pawlenty’s rival and the ostensible reason he exited so early, had kind things to say. Pawlenty “served the people of Minnesota and our country well. Our party and our country are better as a result of his service and commitment,” she said.

But, of course, competitors on the campaign trail are far more in the business of trading barbs than exchanging compliments.

Now, all discussion turns to whether Pawlenty would accept if tapped for the vice presidential nomination. He has said he’s intentionally not vying for the veep position, but, as Ed tweeted yesterday, nobody considers it until asked. He’d be a worthy choice for a variety of reasons — not of Washington, which suits the nation’s present populist mood; reelected in a blue state in 2006, when Republicans lost majorly; prepared for the presidency, should the worst happen, etc., etc., etc.

Update I: Meant to include this in the post in the first place — but the Minnesota GOP chair has a different idea than VP for Pawlenty.Tony Sutton wants the former governor to run for Senate.

Update II: Rick Perry loves Pawlenty, too. “He is one of my favorite governors out there, not only because of what a Republican governor did in a pretty blue state, but also in a personal way. He is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever been around in my life and I just love him,” Perry said, adding that they often “joke and poke each other.”

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They act like it’s a funeral…

golfmann on August 15, 2011 at 10:09 AM

I find it hard to believe he could outshine Sheriff Joe as VP in terms of voter respect and career accomplishments.

a capella on August 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

I was thinking of writing a detailed comment about this, but I just couldn’t get inspired to do it.

forest on August 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

I’d love Huntsman if he’d primary Obama.

ErnstBlofeld on August 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Nah, still don’t like him.

The Mega Independent on August 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Tina, the officially-sanctioned HA catchphrase for this phenomenon is “Strange New Respect”.

Purple Fury on August 15, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Hack Amy Klobuchar and her hacks hardest hit.

SouthernGent on August 15, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Most people have nice things to say with someone passes… along.

jake-the-goose on August 15, 2011 at 10:13 AM

They’re just fishing for his endorsement.

Droopy on August 15, 2011 at 10:13 AM

The Boss Malkin’s page had a nice clip: George Will on Amanpour’s show saying rather haughtidly: “Listen, who’s President in 2013 will come down to three people: Daniels, Pawlenty and Obama. Whoever is left standing.”

Yikes.

Marcus on August 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Run for senate tpaw!

cmsinaz on August 15, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Concur… run for Senator after announcing THIS WEEK… Just not “on” This Week…

Khun Joe on August 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Getting out early does maintain T-Paw’s viability, since tepid candidates for president (Pawlenty or Lamar Alexander in the GOP, Joe Lieberman, Paul Tsingas and even the pre-lunatic Al Gore on the Democrats’ side) tend to become more and more the target of disdain and ridicule for their dull personalities the longer they remain in the presidential race.

GOP nominees for VP are going to be ridiculed by the big media no matter who they are, but if T-Paw’s going to be a possible choice, better to not give the press a head start on their efforts.

jon1979 on August 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM

The simple truth is that because Team Obama cannot run on a record, they have basically indicated that they will instead run the most vile, vicious, personal, slanderous campaign this country has ever seen. Tim Pawlenty was never going to be up for that. We had years of GWB refusing to fight back, and look where we are. This time around, Republicans want a pit bull. That’s what it’s going to take to beat Obama. That’s also why Palin and Bachmann start with a terrible disadvantage. Like it or not, pit bull behaviors in women just don’t come off with the same tone as they do in men. That’s just a fact. It might be unfair, but it’s the truth.

Rational Thought on August 15, 2011 at 10:17 AM

He has always seemed like a decent guy, just not terribly inspiring. I’d have no problem with him as a VP pick, but then I’m an ABO voter, so I’m not that choosy.

AZCoyote on August 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Palin had nice things to say.

darwin on August 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

The Boss Malkin’s page had a nice clip: George Will on Amanpour’s show saying rather haughtidly: “Listen, who’s President in 2013 will come down to three people: Daniels, Pawlenty and Obama. Whoever is left standing.”

Yikes.

Marcus on August 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Be absolutely honest. He made that comment in May, right as Bachmann was preparing to enter. Would you have predicted she’d smother Pawlenty’s campaign by running as a favorite-son in Iowa, and actually win the straw poll?

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 10:21 AM

They’re just fishing for his endorsement.

Droopy on August 15, 2011 at 10:13 AM

You are so right! And we voters are so freaking gullible.
We continue to fall for the crapola and use emotion instead of brains to vet our candidates. It is amazing.

I vacilate between being fascinated and/or sickened by it.

Amjean on August 15, 2011 at 10:22 AM

You’re right RT, we need a fighter….this will be an ugly campaign…..

cmsinaz on August 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Be absolutely honest. He made that comment in May, right as Bachmann was preparing to enter. Would you have predicted she’d smother Pawlenty’s campaign by running as a favorite-son in Iowa, and actually win the straw poll?

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 10:21 AM

No … no one would have – and that’s the point.

George Will is a complete IDIOT for even making a prediction like that so early.

As long as he’s been in the business – and he still breaks out a “crystal ball” for every question he’s asked.

He would have looked a lot smarter by saying … “How the hell should I know Christine … it’s too damn early to make predictions”.

Since he did make the prediction – we’re free to ridicule him for it.

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

We continue to fall for the crapola and use emotion instead of brains to vet our candidates. It is amazing.

Amjean on August 15, 2011 at 10:22 AM

If we were using our brains, Pawlenty would still be in, and Paul and Santorum would be out.

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Run for senate tpaw!

cmsinaz on August 15, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I hope he does.

forest on August 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Pawlently would make a good Dismantling Bloated Government Department Czar.

Start with Education and move on to Labor, Energy, etc.

darwin on August 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Who is everybody? T Paw lost me when he punked out against Romney.

NotCoach on August 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

He won’t run for gov again. Definitely not against Amy. He’ll either be in a cabinet post, a good private sector job or run against Franken. He originally wanted to run for Senate but moved aside for Coleman.

IR-MN on August 15, 2011 at 10:35 AM

I like ZZZ-Paw….just not for President. Senate, sure!

search4truth on August 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM

It might also have helped Pawlenty to build momentum if voters could only have known just how highly his competitors thought of him.

Politics as usual. Attack your opponents when they’re in the race, and lavish them with praise them when they’re no threat to you.

UltimateBob on August 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

NotCoach on August 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

That was his Macaca moment. John King gave him a wide open lane to attack Romney’s health-care plan, and what did he do? He punted. People were confused on why he used the term “Obamney-Care” on Fox News Sunday, but not at the debates. In other words, the guy showed weakness, when the people wanted to see strength.

Besides his punting strategy at the debates, T-Paw didn’t really connect with audiences. He was seen as a drip, and wasn’t forceful in his critiques of The One.

Frank T.J Mackey on August 15, 2011 at 10:42 AM

He’s kind of a ‘meh’ choice for veep, too, frankly.

changer1701 on August 15, 2011 at 10:42 AM

***

That’s also why Palin and Bachmann start with a terrible disadvantage. Like it or not, pit bull behaviors in women just don’t come off with the same tone as they do in men. That’s just a fact. It might be unfair, but it’s the truth.

Rational Thought on August 15, 2011 at 10:17 AM

I agree with the Z-Paw part of your comment, but not with this. I see Palin or Bachman (more so Palin) as the perfect pitbulls. They’re happy warriors. And for combatting a hostile press that’s trying to protect the first black president, I think they’re perfect.

In this regard, Romney is a terrible opponent, because he’ll look to independents like the smarmy corporate executive (The Man) who’s unreasonably not given the downtrodden brother a chance. I’ll admit that Perry would be a different story in that he could enter with a no-nonsense swagger telling Americans that whatever Obama’s color he’s not making it. Beyond those two, I think even Ryan or Christie would have a difficult time unseating Obama, just from the perspective of it appearing that The Man is replacing Obama.

I hate identity politics as much as anyone, but I think Obama will have a hard time crucifying Palin or Bachmann while ignoring his own record. As much as independents would dislike Romney’s pokes at Obama, I think they’d even more so dislike the viciousness that the media and Obama will unleash on Palin or Bachmann. And between Palin and Bachmann, what left have they got to uncover on Palin? With Bachmann, they haven’t even begun and, I think, her husband is a real liability for someone running for president.

BuckeyeSam on August 15, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Buckeye: I do think, though, that RT has a point. However, I think it’s gender-based.

Any points Palin or Bachmann would lose from being a pit bull with men would be offset by the personal destruction politics Obama must run against any candidate.

With women, it’s probably a double negative against the females.

Scott H on August 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

If we were using our brains, Pawlenty would still be in, and Paul and Santorum would be out.

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Right – because all of us idiot rednecks out here held a gun to T-Paw’s head and force him to QUIT.

He’s a quitter – quit after a stupid straw poll that was such a joke – Ron Paul came in second. Seriously – I shudder to think of what “President T-Paw” would have chickend out on had he made it to the oval office.

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 10:59 AM

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Doesn’t speak very well for someone who doesn’t have the courage to get in the race to begin with, then, does it?

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Doesn’t speak very well for someone who doesn’t have the courage to get in the race to begin with, then, does it?

KingGold on August 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM

She doesn’t need to be in the race anymore – Perry’s in. If Palin jumps in at this point – she and Perry knock each other out and RomneyCare gets the nomination.

I have a feeling that Perry’s folks are speaking with Palin now and offering her anything she wants for an endorsement. I hope she takes the deal – even if it’s a VP slot – she’s got a lot more to give to this nation.

Big winner here … JOE “YOU LIE” WILSON … he was the only Southern Republican I knew who had endorsed Pawlenty and now I’m sure he’s breathing a bit easier!

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

a capella on August 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

As a Veep he could outshine almost anyone, because he could bring MN with him. Obamandias is toast if he can’t win that state, which should be in his hip pocket.

MJBrutus on August 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

They’re just fishing for his endorsement.

Or trying to be too obvious in their praise, so Pawlenty won’t endorse them.

Emperor Norton on August 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM

The simple truth is that because Team Obama cannot run on a record, they have basically indicated that they will instead run the most vile, vicious, personal, slanderous campaign this country has ever seen.

Rational Thought on August 15, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Good luck with that. One of Bambi’s strengths is personal likeability (not with me, but with a lot of people.) If he goes strongly negative, that goes out the window and what is he left with?

We had something similar in Wisconsin last year. Feingold was seen as a nice normal guy and then he went negative in his attempt to keep his seat against Ron Johnson. He still lost and now the “nice guy” image is gone.

PackerBronco on August 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

My bet is T-Paw endorses Mitt Romney. Yeah – regardless of the “Obamneycare” comment … T-Paw was a left leaning GOP governor and I think that is his natural environment. I never bought into his “Tea Party Conversion” … sorry.

So yeah – I think you’ll see him endorse the most liberal guy in the race … ROMNEY.

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

More than likely Pawlenty quit for a practical reason.
He knew he wouldn’t receive the fund backing in order to put on a “robust” (for lack of a better term)campaign.

Amjean on August 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Politics is no longer the sport of gentlemen, if it ever was, as exemplified in the British-house-of-commons-vein. People are looking for a HERO, an alpha male or an alpha bitch, on BOTH sides, this is why Romney has little stature in the popular mind. This is why Obama has to double down, to get re-elected. Pawlenty is not seen as a HERO, when he had the chance to be a hero, he did the Canadian thing, he dropped back 10 yards and punted.

bigmike on August 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM

George Will is a complete IDIOT for even making a prediction like that so early.

HondaV65 on August 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

It pays for a prophet – and a pundit – not to be too specific.

PackerBronco on August 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Scott H on August 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Sorry, I can’t agree or disagree, because I can’t tell what you’re saying.

I guess you agree with RT that women who are pitbulls come off worse than men. I suppose, in most cases, that’s true. This election is NOT most cases. A white-man pit bull–except, maybe, Perry–will come across worse than a happy-warrior pitbull such as Bachmann or Palin. In effect, you’re pitting two minorities against each other. Pawlenty may have had the better points against Bachmann in Thursday’s debate, but Pawlenty looked horrible making it. And I think Obama will look horrible going negative on a woman, especially with his horrible record.

And as a practical matter, is a struggling independent really going to believe Obama’s promises of more free stuff and prosperity? Dems may be thought to be favored by that single mother trying to collect child support from a deadbeat father. But Palin or Bachmann can paint Obama as that deadbeat father who, though subject to garnishment (a promise), still can’t come through because he has no money. Better to revive an economy to get that deadbeat working again so that the garnishment kicks in.

BuckeyeSam on August 15, 2011 at 11:22 AM

I’ll give the competitors the benefit of the doubt on being sincere in their praise. I think Pawlenty is a genuinely nice guy, who struggled with some of the aggressive attacks that are necessary in cutthroat politics but were very unnatural for him. Because it was out of his comfort zone, it looked to me like he went on the attack when he should have been civil, and looked weak when he should have been exploiting openings in his opponents’ positions, a bit too often.

As to the “why didn’t he take off” with his qualifications… relational dynamics gives a couple of clues. Ever reflected on the difference between “nice guys (or girls)” who are great friends, and wonderful people, but there’s just no “spark” or charisma/passion when interacting with them?

Extrapolate that dynamic to a campaign/rally environment, and I think that’s the answer to why he just couldn’t connect & move people to donate money, caucus for him, etc.

Just my take.

cs89 on August 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

PackerBronco on August 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Call me a cynic, but I believe his “personal likability” rating is a way to deflect the racist label away from those polled. You can think he’s a failure at everything, but if you find him personally likable, you’re clearly not a racist.

SKYFOX on August 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

The Boss Malkin’s page had a nice clip: George Will on Amanpour’s show saying rather haughtidly: “Listen, who’s President in 2013 will come down to three people: Daniels, Pawlenty and Obama. Whoever is left standing.”

Yikes.

Marcus on August 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Per Will, Palin can’t be trusted with the bomb. So that disqualifies her.

Paul-Cincy on August 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

If he doesn’t beat Franken then there is no way he could have beaten Obama.

batterup on August 15, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Per Will, Palin can’t be trusted with the bomb. So that disqualifies her.

Paul-Cincy on August 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

I trust Palin with the bomb more than I trust Will with an opinion.

SKYFOX on August 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

People on both sides are looking for a HERO, this is why the left will hold on to Obama like a talisman past the point of no return. People on the right also are looking for a HERO, this is why Romney doesn’t resonate, and it doesn’t matter what endorsements he picks up. We’re holding out for a HERO, nothing less is acceptable!

bigmike on August 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

If T-Paw runs for Senate, I’ll donate a $100 to his senate campaign.

Conservative Samizdat on August 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM

As to the “why didn’t he take off” with his qualifications… relational dynamics gives a couple of clues. Ever reflected on the difference between “nice guys (or girls)” who are great friends, and wonderful people, but there’s just no “spark” or charisma/passion when interacting with them?

Extrapolate that dynamic to a campaign/rally environment, and I think that’s the answer to why he just couldn’t connect & move people to donate money, caucus for him, etc.

Just my take.

I saw him in person a couple of times. Without as much charisma as the other candidates, he needed to show enough passion to draw in the voters. He didn’t, but I think he could have if he had included in his message a narrative about his experiences in Minnesota where he took a position and held on to it until he prevailed.

The first time I saw him, he barely mentioned his record in MN. The second time was better, but still more like a reciting a laundry list.

I don’t know if he wasn’t aware of the voters’ desire for a passionate candidate, or if he was deliberately trying to campaign as “reasonable, responsible” candidate by minimizing his conflict with the Dems in MN.

DakotaBoy on August 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM

I remember how effusively the old Indiana basketball coach, Bob Knight, used to praise Steve Yoder when he was coach of the Wisconsin Badgers back in the 1980s. Same thing here.

Mr. D on August 15, 2011 at 12:16 PM

GOP Media Whore opening for your TPaw…..MSNBC is hiring.

Hey, politicians and former politicians….how about YOU get a real (private sector) job and stop sucking off the public teet too.

We know when a Ruling Classer talks about a long career in “PUBLIC SERVICE” they mean they spent their entire life as a nipple baby on the great sow of Washington D.C.

Hobbits are short, we’re not stupid.

PappyD61 on August 15, 2011 at 1:09 PM

On one hand, damning with faint praise, since it’s obvious that TPaw broke the eleventh command by calling her a liar, not once but twice in the debate. On the other, the establishment, msm included, are riding on the “blame the TPers” meme that we ran off a perfectly good candidate. Big deal, he was weak and it’s high time the field narrowed to make room for others. Who did he help by getting out? Mittness, another ex-blue state governor.

AH_C on August 15, 2011 at 1:42 PM

I wonder if any of the people who got upset when T Paw went after Bachman (violating the 11th commandment)also thought he made a mistake when he didn’t followup on Obamneycare in the first debate.

It seems to me that the same rule should apply in both situations. Since they are in a contest with only 1 winner, it is legitimate to go after the others at the debates.

DakotaBoy on August 15, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Pawlenty was a nice man but was too passive when other Republicans were being unfairly attacked by the media.

Hilts on August 15, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Good guy. Wish he had better campaign sense. Fred Thompson is a good guy too. Oh, well. Next!

Pablo Snooze on August 15, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I wonder if any of the people who got upset when T Paw went after Bachman (violating the 11th commandment)also thought he made a mistake when he didn’t followup on Obamneycare in the first debate.

It seems to me that the same rule should apply in both situations. Since they are in a contest with only 1 winner, it is legitimate to go after the others at the debates.

DakotaBoy on August 15, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Going after a record for contrast is not the same thing as calling one a liar. TPaw would have scored calling it Obamneycare to Mittness’ face, but he wussed out while Mitt turned to face him. Score Mittness 1 TPaw 0.

Calling MB a liar and she responded by repeating facts and/or clarifications to why she’s not lying, score MB 2 TPaw -2.

AH_C on August 15, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Pawlenty would certainly be an addition to the Senate, and a Pet Rock would be smarter than Klobuchar, but he might be a better fit as a cabinet secretary in the next Administration. There’s a mighty mess that needs cleaning up in most departments, and we need skilled administrators to handle it.

Adjoran on August 15, 2011 at 3:34 PM

For the duration of his presidential campaign, Gov. Tim Pawlenty struggled to inspire any kind of enthusiasm in the electorate.

With the sole exception having been this site, or at least that’s been my impression. I never really understood it, personally.

Cylor on August 15, 2011 at 11:42 PM

For the duration of his presidential campaign, Gov. Tim Pawlenty struggled to inspire any kind of enthusiasm in the electorate.

With the sole exception having been this site, or at least that’s been my impression. I never really understood it, personally.

There was also Powerline.

DakotaBoy on August 15, 2011 at 11:55 PM