Why more voters haven’t gravitated toward Pawlenty is an open question. As often occurs in such a case, however, some fingers are being pointed at the candidate’s campaign staff. One prominent Pawlenty-aligned early-state operative privately griped about the strategy and direction of a campaign that was “pretty obviously not resonating” and singled out the leadership of Nick Ayers, who took over as campaign manager in April after a heavily touted four-year stint as the executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
As an under-30 political hotshot who has been accused of harboring an ego to match his glowing reputation, Ayers presents a tempting target for dissatisfied Pawlenty allies to pin their frustrations on. But his colleagues at campaign headquarters in Minneapolis dispute the notion that there is widespread dissatisfaction within the ranks, despite the quiet grumbling from a few operatives…
To critics, [the] loyalists are in denial: The obvious reality is that Pawlenty just isn’t catching on. But within the campaign, he and his advisers are taking heart from a previous political primary season — and a very recent one at that. Only four years ago, John McCain’s summer of 2007 included a campaign implosion that caused the Arizona senator to be written off in many quarters. And yet, by persevering and not spooking, the McCain ship righted itself and won the Republican nomination.
“My own view is that there’s not much need for a change in strategy,” a senior Pawlenty adviser said. “I think we have a good core message established for the governor.”