Tim Pawlenty Makes Presidential Aspirations Official

Tim Pawlenty Makes Presidential Aspirations Official


The Minnesota Governor kicked off his 2012 in Iowa today with the mantra “A Time For Truth” and the promise that he’ll finally level with the people of the United States.

From Wash Post:

“Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people.”

The “speak truth to power” idea — and Pawlenty used the word “truth” 16 times in his announcement speech — is an interesting one for the former Minnesota governor who has often been described as too vanilla or too boring to excite the GOP electorate.

Pawlenty appears to be gambling that while no single one of his proposals will be popular in the state at which they are aimed, he will get credit from the Republican primary electorate for addressing them in a serious way.

If he really goes out there and is bold, brash and unafraid…he’ll do well against the more guarded Romney. If not, there’s no way this guy will be the GOP’s nominee.

Is it me, or are the GOP candidates pretty thin for 2012? Even if Palin steps into the race, she’ll be nothing more than a popular sideshow who’s completely unelectable. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich don’t really have a shot either, so that leaves Romney and Pawlenty. Pawlenty is pretty boring and when’s the last time the GOP nominated somebody they didn’t know very well? So that leaves Romney, who will get destroyed by Obama on the health care argument.

Your thoughts?

  • kranky kritter

    Thin in the sense of “established prominence.” But not that thin in the sense of viable and substantive, at least not moreso than usual for either partyt’s field.

    I mean, I would not, as you seem to imply you do, think the GOP field was LESS thin because Palin hopped in. This is no election for lightweights like her or Bachman, or small-tent candidates without broad appeal. Although granted, the small tenters serve a role in making sure issues that some core group is passionate about get represented.

    Pawlenty has made the sort of promise that is IMO exactly along the lines of what we need: someone willing to be the turd in the punchbowl and deliver bad news about hard choices and sacrifices. The question is whether he can deliver, and deliver in way that tells more than half of the truth. If Pawlenty can only deliver the subset of hard truths that are painful for liberals and music to conservative ears, he’s wasting America’s time.

    I don’t make much of Romney’s apparent frontrunner status right now. At this point he could be no more than a placeholder. There is very little passion or conviction underlying whatever support and strength Romney is showing. It’s as lukewarm as it gets, no?

    He is certainly collecting big mainstream conservative money in the absence of viable alternatives. But that could go 2 ways. One, he captures all the air and leaves the rest choking. Or two, one or two of the much lesser well known governor candidates gets the majority of the “who else” press and emerges on the basis of seeming more authentic and without Romney’s baggage.

    No one seems willing to bank like me on the “governor to be named later” hypothesis. It happens. And it happens exactly when the better known field is lackluster and fails to inspire. Right now, I think Pawlenty of Hunstman could rise pretty quickly with a little bit of press, some good-looking soundbites, and the right message.

    Pawlenty’s message sounds spot on to me. But I have no idea what kind of candidate he is or really, what he is like as person. About 98% of Americans is in the same boat. With that message he can’t sound petty or whiny or like a scold. He needs to perfect that reluctant “someone has to say it” tone. It won’t be easy. Even if the product is right, he still has to make the sale.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/ Nick Benjamin

    The guy has to do something. Being the guy who tells the truth about Ethanol in Iowa certainly is something, and if he manages to survive the caucus with a 10-15% he’ll be well-positioned for NH and beyond. Trouble is he’s at 4% in Iowa, and this ain’t gonna win him many friends.

    The likely scenario her is he gets beat by Bachman, and is forced to drop out.

    @kk: The problem with the governor to be named later hypothesis is that it’s very hard to create a Presidential Primary campaign from scratch in a few months. Presidential primaries are run by the states, each state has it’s own set of elaborate and byzantine procedures. For example most caucus states have meaningless primaries, but in Texas you have to vote in the meaningless primary to vote in the caucus.

    Remember the reason Obama won in 2008 was not that his support in the party was actually significantly larger then Hillary’s, it was that he had a guy in Fargo, ND who really knew the rules of ND’s Democratic Primary. He repeated that in every state, while Hillary focused on a glitzy national campaign, and as a result he won 11 in a row in February.

    So the simple fact is all serious candidates already have some ideas about who their man in Fargo, ND is going to be. The smart ones have some idea who their guy in Muscatine, Iowa will be.

  • Jim S

    I think that Pawlenty is only willing to tell the Republican version of hard truths and completely unwilling to address the revenue side of real fiscal prudence when it comes to government.

  • kranky kritter

    Well, when I have been saying GTBNL, I’ve been talking about the guys who were probably going to run and who have been planning as you suggest, not someone who is just sitting on the sofa. By “to be named later,” I really mean “to become well known later.”

    My list of these guys has been Pawlenty, Huntsman, Daniels, and Christie. Now there are 3 with Daniels out. More than anything, my guts says that conservatives want someone fresh, not some well-known, forked-tongue fart with baggage like Romney or Gingrich.

    @Jim: Yup, Pawlenty is not going to suggest the possibility of raising taxes as a candidate, whether in the primaries or the general if he makes it there. You can bet the house on that. I don’t interpret that as not being serious. George Bush said read my lips, and then he pulled the trigger. On the issue of taxes, the dance is, IMO, what it is.

    Personally, I accept that when major political figures are campaigning, they generally have to color within almost all of the lines dictated by what the given electorate at the time will accept. So I’ll be looking for Pawlenty to find other ways to signal seriousness without saying “hey, let’s raise taxes.”

    I am sure that progressives are going to keep hammering on “no candidate can be serious without acknowledging that we must raise taxes on the wealthiest.” I find it an unrealistic litmus test, because it’s tantamount to claiming that no republican can be serious without committing political suicide within his party.

    And I say that as someone who is pretty sure that taxes WILL be raised on the wealthiest Americans in 2013.

  • http://www.mrieck.com/ Maria

    Why are you saying that Ron Paul don’t really have a shot? He has been saying a lot of powerful stuff recently from what I’ve heard.


  • Jim S

    Because many of Ron Paul’s position are very fringe and largely ignore the real world. In addition many libertarians consider him a faux libertarian since he has no problem with things like a ban on abortion at the state level while his position against the wasteful war on drugs turns off the social conservatives.

  • gerryf

    Pawlenty is toast already. When he starts his campaign with speech about speaking the truth 16 times after lying about something as basic as his fiscal record.

    Is anyone in the Republican Party really dumb enough to believe that Minnesota’s greater than $5 billion budget deficit has nothing to do with ol’ T-Paw (the governor who stepped down in January 2011). 8 years of 4 budget cycles and he left a budget surplus every time? Only by slashing all programs for the needy, shifting money around with accounting tricks, pushing ahead tax collections, accepting boatloads of federal money with one hand while wagging his finger at the federal government with the other.

    Well, yeah, they probably are dumb enough, which is why I expect T-Paw to be the sacrificial labm…er, candidate.

    As for KK’s mythical “Governor to be named later” isn’t going to happen. The smart money is on an Obama victory and the smart Republicans have already conceded it. No one wants to run against the war chest that Obama is already accumulating–especially this late in the game.

    KK and the Republican party reminds me of Estragon and Vladimir in “Waiting for Godot.”

    We’ve got a handful of never-were’s and no chancers and that’s pretty much all you are going to get.

    That doesn’t mean a huge issue couldn’t jump up and bounce Obama out of office–that could still happen, but the folks in the race are the ones who will benefit from it, not some johnny come lately darkhorse draftee who lacks the fire in his belly to run a balls to the wall campaign.

    I think we all remember what happened with Fred Thompson.

    Christie gives the GOP a woody because he won in a state where Republicans don’t win. There is a chance he runs, but only because he has no chance of winning re-election with numbers that have been plummeting for the past several months. He might as well play the knight in shining armor and hope for some political cataclysm because he reign in Jerseyland will be short lived.

    It will not surprise me if Romney and Huntsman sit this one out–in fact, I am about 80 percent sure they will. Both men are pretty smart and Romney isn’t going to waste his big run in a loser race. Huntsman who I had pegged early on as the darkhorse has the baggage of being an Obama appointee this time around when his party has veered so far to the right that just the thought of that will drive the base insane. Instead, Huntsman is going to sit this one out and let the party implode and then come in for the 2016 run where he can be the centrist candidate with broad appeal.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/ Nick Benjamin

    Keep in mind that half of what Progressives do politically is intended to keep Blue Dogs in line. It’s very easy to imagine a world where the Blue Dogs have the balance of power, we need to raise taxes, but they won’t let us because they fear the political consequences.

    If Progressives have been making a big fuss about how anybody who opposes tax hikes is a stupid moron who can’t do math that world is a lot less likely because the Blue Dogs know they’d get primaried.

    The problem with a Ron Paul candidacy is that he’s polling in the high single digits despite the fact everyone knows a lot about him. Herman Cain can probably get 10-20 points just by letting primary voters know he exists. GOP Primary voters know what Ron Paul is selling, but they ain’t buying.

    A guy like Huntsman has to run in 2012 if he wants to run in 2016. There’s just no way for the Governor of a small state like Utah to be considered a political heavyweight nationally unless he lasts a few months this year. Think about it this way: how the hell does John Huntsman know who his 2016 guy in Fargo, ND is going to be if he doesn’t run this year? In other words he’s trying to be the next Huckabee, and he can;t do that without running.

    Romney also has to run. The last Northeastern Governor to get this much buzz was Mario Cuomo, who delayed his run twice because he thought Reagan and Bush Sr. were unbeatable. You don’t get many shots at a nomination to the Presidency, so you have to make them count.

    I agree that neither is likely to win if nominated, unless the recession returns full force, but both of them have to run and run as if they mean it.

  • kranky kritter

    I agree the smart money is on Obama, and have said so at least 3 times here over the last few months. Probably more. I voted for Obama in 2008, and plan to vote for im again in 2012.So lumping me with the republican party is a pure douche move, plain and simple, Gerry. I’m only pointing out the obvious on both of these points.

    For someone who talks so much about politics, you show a woeful lack of acumen when it comes to the nature of running for President. You have a handle on the political concerns, but not on the competitive mechanics.

    Romney’s 65 now, and hasn’t worked in 4 years. This could be his last chance. The (realistic and truly viable) window usually opens only once or twice for most presidential aspirants. If Mitt wants to be the President, he’ll run now. To decline to run now is tantamount to admitting he’ll probably never win. Again, pointing out the obvious. Since you are 80% sure neither will run, how about I bet you $50 you’re wrong?

    Huntsman needs to raise his profile if he has serious aspirations for the future, just as Nick stated. And as I stated, in a race without powerful attractive frontrunners, a lesser known guy without baggage can quickly rise in popularity. One more time, pointing out what should be obvious to politics fans.

    Christie gives the GOP a woody because he won in a state where Republicans don’t win. There is a chance he runs, but only because he has no chance of winning re-election with numbers that have been plummeting for the past several months. He might as well play the knight in shining armor and hope for some political cataclysm because he reign in Jerseyland will be short lived.

    I must say that either you really don’t understand the nature of his appeal, or else can’t acknowledge it at the expense of being derogatory towards conservatives. I don’t think Christie is going to run, and I’d be a little disappointed if he did run after what he has said about the nature of what he’s trying to do. I only include him in the mix because I know that ambition is a pretty irresistible lure. It’s unfortunate that your spin on Christie is that the only way he would run would be as an act of cowardice. But then, the only certainty in your worldview that I have ever been able to discern is that all conservatives act in bad faith.

  • kranky kritter

    @ Maria Folks who watch politics closely for many years notice that there’s a type of candidate whose appeal is deep and passionate at the expense of being broad. Such candidates usually take strong stands on controversial issues. Supporter who agree find such folks courageous. But the candidate runs into a lot of trouble getting to 50%.

    Ron Paul is the epitome of this type of candidate.

  • gerryf

    We’ll see. I recognize the mechanics very well, thank you, but I also recognize what you seem to want to ignore–the Republican Party is bat crap crazy.

    Romney is the best candidate they have. He’s motivated, he’s got a record that could win the middle if he wouldn’t spend so much time running away from it, he’s organizaed and he’s got the fund-raising organization already in place.

    And his own party is spending every moment of it’s time trying to find someone other that Romney. You want douchiness–the GOP is loaded with it.

    I’ll concede your points on Huntsman guy (and if I am not mistaken I was the first one to mention Huntsman around here), but he also has big negatives. He was Obama’s freaking ambassador to China after all.

    And there is more than one way to get your name out in a presidential campaign. Vice Presidential Candidate John Huntsman….hmmmm.

    This election is all about letting the Tea Party bat crap crazy candidates get their clocks cleaned so the Republican establishment can get back in the drivers seat.

    The GOP backroom Pols want to use the Tea Party, they don’t want to be used by them. This election is all about showing the wack jobs “OK, you think you know how to do this? Let’s see.”

    It is much more likely that Rudy Giuliani turns out to be your Governor to be named later. I don’t know what he’s going to do without 9-11, but he’s planning a big splash in New Hampshire.

  • WHQ

    Isn’t Pawlenty a bit too meta? He’s not simply saying *things that need to be said*. He’s also saying *I’m saying things that need to be said*. In other words, “Look at how courageous I am. I’m willing to piss people off. We need someone like me.” It’s too obvious.

    And this: Going after ethanol subsidies in Iowa = I love the Koch brothers and their oil-money donations.

    Nice try, Tim.

  • Tully

    WHQ: You know that Koch Industries is a big player in ethanol, right? Apparently not. Guess someone forgot to print that on the cardboard target.

  • gerryf

    WHQ isn’t wrong, he’s just out of date. I can clearly recall the Charles Koch saying Ethanol was not something they were interested in as little as four years ago.

    (they were speculating in it, just not producing it)

    Here’s a link:


    However, that all changed when Oil jumped to the $100 a barrel strata. Now, Ethanol is a profit maker so they’re dabbling with a few plants they bought within the last year.

    Still, I hate how the Koch Brothers have become the boogie-man of the left. It’s getting so people are looking under their beds at night expecting one of them to grab their ankles.

  • WHQ

    Tully, you better let Charles Koch know.


    For what it’s worth, I’m against ethanol subsidies. I just don’t believe Pawlenty’s motives are as pure as he says or that he’s being particularly brave.

  • WHQ

    Addendum: Just because you hedge doesn’t mean you want to lose your bet.

  • WHQ

    As the war of words has heated up, critics of Mr. Koch have pointed out that Koch Industries receives federal energy subsidies—for blending ethanol into gasoline in its refineries. Mr. Koch, in a March op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, addressed that criticism. His company opposes ethanol subsidies as a matter of policy, he said, but it accepts the taxpayer money because it’s “essentially obligated” by federal policy to use the alternative fuel.