While it is WAAAAAAYYYYY too early to seriously talk about the 2012 Presidential nominating season, some quiet buzz has been building on the internet for one contender - my former Governor Tim Pawlenty. Two columns came out in the last two days laying out a compelling reason why GOP voters should take a hard look at former Governor Pawlenty.
The first came yesterday at National Review. It wasn't from Jim Geraghty or Rich Lowry - it was from Romesh Ponnuru and he gives us the cons...
As Pawlenty prepares to run for the Republican nomination for president, his main problem is simple: Most Americans have never heard of him. Republicans tend to prefer known commodities: Every winner of the Republican nomination in the last 70 years had a national reputation a year before the primaries. (ed - but there is still lots of time) Courage to Stand is not selling well. Yet Pawlenty may just be the Republicans’ strongest presidential candidate for 2012. Compared with his competitors, he is either more conservative, more electable, or both.
But some of the cons he shares with his competition...
For most conservatives, the biggest blot on Pawlenty’s record is his past support for cap-and-trade. He does not try to finesse the issue. “It’s fair to say I’ve had a change of position and change of view, and the reason is it’s a dumb idea,” he tells NR. “It was a mistake.” All public officials have a few “clunkers” in their record, he says, expressing the hope that voters will appreciate a straightforward acknowledgment of error. He adds, “I think my clunkers are fewer than others’.” This particular clunker is widely shared. Gingrich, Palin, Romney, and Mike Huckabee all once supported cap-and-trade — although not all of them are as candid as Pawlenty about their switch.
before he gives pros...
The theme of Pawlenty’s presidential campaign so far is that Americans, especially those of middle income, are losing faith in the country’s future. Rising debt, the disappearance of the “strong back” jobs his father and his father’s friends once relied on, the suspicion that free markets are giving way to “crony capitalism”: All have eroded Americans’ confidence in their system...
...On paper, Pawlenty is a great candidate. He was a successful governor of a deep-blue state — Minnesota last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1972 — for two terms. And he’s from an electorally important region of the country, maybe the key swing region for Republicans.
Jonathan Chait explains why he thinks Pawlenty will get the nomination
So, if you want to find the next Republican nominee, you need to find a candidate who’s acceptable to both elites and the base. A good summation of the list of elite-approve candidate’s can be found in George Will’s column from last Sunday. Ruthlessly purging every candidate of potential candidate lacking electoral plausibility, Will lists five possibilities. Other candidates—Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, or others—may have some appeal to the base, but Republican elites will probably be able to dissuade voters from considering them on electability grounds. Will’s five: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts Governor Romney, and Pawlenty.
One way to arrive at Pawlenty is through process of elimination. I’ve argued many times that Mitt Romney is fatally wounded. If he lacked any serious competition at all, he could possibly—maybe—consolidate establishment support and fend off attacks on his health care plan. But, in a contested race, he simply has no answer for attacks on Romneycare. Romney is finished.
Huntsman, too, will be disqualified as an ideological traitor for his service in the Obama administration, a weakness compounded by his lack of name recognition, which will serve only to make his Obama connection a more prominent part of his identity.
Barbour is the kind of person the party elites would love to have as president but would hate to have as presidential candidate. He’s a walking GOP stereotype who has never had to run outside of a wildly Republican state. I have expressed constant astonishment at the possibility that elites would rally behind such a clearly unelectable nominee. The mere fact that Barbour’s candidacy has advanced this far gives me pause, but I continue to believe the party establishment could not possibly be so inept as to nominate him.
Then there’s Daniels. He has the advantage of strong elite connections, through his service in the Bush administration, and a reasonably compelling case to make to the base. But he has severe weaknesses that have gone largely unnoticed. Social conservatives hate his call for a truce on social issues. Economic conservatives hate his humane health care reform. As a short, bald former pharmaceutical executive and Bush administration official, Daniels is not a whole lot more electable than Barbour. Plus, he sounds unlikely to run, anyway.
That leaves Pawlenty. He has demonstrated political talent, having worked his way up the party hierarchy and winning the governorship in blue-ish Minnesota twice. His record contains only one major ideological deviation—support for cap-and-trade, at a time when cap-and-trade seemed to be emerging as a consensus GOP position, which he has thoroughly recanted. Because cap-and-trade is dead with no prospect of revival, I think Pawlenty could survive this apostasy...
In the end, Pawlenty’s calling card is an ability to appeal to white working-class voters. Pawlenty calls himself a “Sam’s Club Republican.” The phrase has also been used by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam in urging the party to adopt a more working-class friendly platform. But the coincidence between the two uses of the phrase ends there. Pawlenty does not dissent in any way from the party’s plutocratic platform—his notion of working class appeal lies purely in the realm of personal style. This, too, places Pawlenty squarely in the George W. Bush mold of nominee, a reasonably (though not wildly) talented pol who uses charisma to demonstrate working-class authenticity while reliably toeing the party line.
I’m not going to proclaim Pawlenty a lock or even an outright favorite. But I do see him as the leading contender, and his intrade value (currently showing a 13.5 percent chance of winning) should probably be two to three times higher. In a wide-open field, Pawlenty is where I’d place my bet.
Chait's sums up the appeal of Tim Pawlenty. That and he is about as honest and genuine a person as you can imagine.
Is he perfect? Oh heck no. I don't think any Minnesota conservative will ever try to claim that - we all had our issues with him. The question is can he stand toe to toe with President Barack Obama and possibly beat him. The answer is most assuredly yes.