First, his critics (who include no doubt backers of other horses) say Pawlenty is dull.
Other than Romney, I have interviewed Pawlenty more often than any other elected official over the past 12 years. With great certainty I can say he is easily the funniest, best interview of all the shortlisted candidates I have spoken with. Because the hockey-playing, quick-to-smile former chief exec of the Gopher State is at ease with himself, he is similarly at ease in sit-downs with reporters, ready, willing and very able to give as good as he gets, and very disciplined when it comes to message delivery.
This is an enormous advantage in our media-soaked world, especially in these days of 24/7 news cycles and social media ubiquity. The candidates are always “on,” and the would-be veep needs especially to be out in the lists every day, doing talk radio, local television and endless fundraisers at which every cellphone is a potential game-changing link to the mainstream media.