On July 18, Tim Pawlenty began his “Road to Recovery” tour at the Coralville, IA public library. Along with about 60 other eastern Iowans, I attended to hear the former Governor of our neighbor to the north.
It was a hot day, and the Pawlenty campaign bus was caught up in traffic on I380—the interstate that connects Cedar Rapids with the Iowa City/Coralville area. A local political reporter tweeted that it could be a metaphor for the campaign as the bus crept along at 10 mph.
Gov. Pawlenty was introduced by his wife, Mary. She is a lovely woman and the two of them make a very attractive couple. He then went on to speak for about 25 minutes talking about his background growing up in a blue-collar meat packing community, being the first in his family to attend college, campaigning for Ronald Reagan on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and his vision for this country, and the need to get it back on the right track. He cited his experience as Governor of Minnesota as the experience that had honed his skills to operate in the political environment that is Washington, DC. The comment that was met with the most enthusiastic response was when Pawlenty talked about being a Republican governor in a state that had given us Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and now Sen. Al Franken.
But that is where the enthusiasm ended. Gov. Pawlenty took questions from the group and outlined what he sees as the steps to help the failing American economy: cutting corporate income taxes in half, putting individual income tax into two rates—10% and 25%, and eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest and dividend income, and phase out subsidies for not only ethanol, but all energy industries. Pretty standard Republican (primary) fare.
But, Governor Pawlenty did not, and has not sealed the deal for me. He spoke in a manner that was more rehearsed than from the heart. He took a swipe at President Obama for his teleprompter, but let’s face it; these candidates have a stump speech that they can recite in their sleep. In his cadence and with the volume that he spoke, he brought very little excitement to the event.
In his initial remarks, he took a veiled swipe at fellow Minnesotan, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by saying that Iowa is the place to launch a Presidential campaign and that Iowans should be vigilant not to launch the wrong candidate into the race against Barack Obama next year. I found this comment particularly interesting given that faux-pas that eliminated Gov. Pawlenty from my consideration about a month ago. On a Fox News Sunday program he criticized Mitt Romney by referring to his Massachusetts state health care plan as “Obamneycare”. Then the next night, in a debate in New Hampshire, when given the opportunity, with Mr. Romney on the same stage, he retreated and backed off of that remark. It was at that moment, that I decided that Gov. Pawlenty would never be able to withstand what will be withering attacks from the Democrats in a Presidential campaign.
Craig Robinson, in The Iowa Republican writes about Pawlenty’s recent campaign to paint Cong. Bachmann as not ready for prime time: http://theiowarepublican.com/2011/pawlenty-equates-bachmann-with-obama-%e2%80%9cbig-speeches-and-no-experience%e2%80%9d/
Michele Bachmann is definitely the one to beat in the upcoming Ames Straw Poll. For reasons that I cannot explain, she seems to be the prohibitive favorite to win the Iowa GOP’s quadrennial fundraising event/poll next month. But why would Pawlenty come out to criticize another Minnesotan, but unwilling to go after the national leader in the polls, Mitt Romney? The answer can be found in the US Constitution.
The Twelfth Amendment which outlines the qualifications for Vice-President has a Habitation Clause. It specifically prohibits the President and Vice-President from being residents of the same state.
So, if Michele Bachmann would become the GOP nominee for President, her fellow Minnesotan will be eliminated from consideration as her running mate.
Tim Pawlenty is an attractive man, taller than I expected, with a message that resonates with Republicans and is palatable to independents, but he lacks the passion to make the case for himself, and is probably too nice of a guy to be in the rough and tumble world of Presidential politics.