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August 15, 2011 / Political Fluency

Pawr, Pawr T-Paw

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty couldn’t attract the money or the votes necessary to continue his campaign for the Republican nomination that he began just 83 days prior.

He ended on a high note and by that I mean he was emasculated by Michele Bachmann in his final debate appearance.

In honor of Pawlenty dropping out of the race, here is a post I wrote in March of 2009 predicting his problem with garnering any meaningful level of support.

Take a look at this post about Governor Tim Pawlenty from Matthew E. Miller at race42012.com. Miller has been the best advocate for Pawlenty maybe anywhere.

I augmented my comments to his post for this site.

Now I like Pawlenty a lot. Everything Miller wrote is on the mark. There just seems to be one other thing wrong with Pawlenty and he may not be able to do anything about it.

Let’s quickly recall the 2008 Republican primary. It was a wide-open field and the three factions of the party each had two candidates to choose from which funneled the race between 6 men quickly down to 3 men. The Def-Cons chose McCain over Giuliani, the Soc-Cons chose Huckabee over Thompson, and the E-Cons chose Romney over Paul.

Now this was much more fluid than that (e.g. Huckabee took a lot from Giuliani in Iowa), but the point is the same. The voters chose a safer or better version of the candidate that best exemplified the facet of conservatism that is most important to them. McCain had foreign policy experience as opposed to Giuliani’s domestic and law enforcement experience. Huckabee was a “truer believer” and a more recent player in politics than a Hollywood actor who really only cared about federalism and just didn’t seem to want the nomination bad enough. And Romney wasn’t an extra from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The problem that Giuliani, Thompson, and Paul ran into will be the same wall that Pawlenty needs to begin to break through right now.

About 5 years ago, my mom saw Ben Affleck on The Actor’s Studio with James Lipton and her comment was, “This guy sucks! Why is he on this show?” Okay that was a paraphrase of what she really said, “We don’t need another Tom Cruise right now. Tom Cruise is still young enough to play the roles Ben Affleck would get otherwise and Tom Cruise is a better actor anyway.”

That is Pawlenty’s problem. There are better and more well-known versions of him everywhere for 2012 (and even 2016). The most obvious is Romney who is an older version of Pawlenty. Huckabee is better at talking about Sam’s Club Republicanism even though he doesn’t call it that. Palin and Jindal are both more attractive as the “new, young Republican leaders” because they are governors who aren’t white males. Gingrich has more name recognition and better specific ideas for showing conservative solutions to America’s current problems. And Sanford is starting to make some bold moves and statements to garner national attention.

The one trait that all of the above candidates have that Pawlenty just does not – gravitas. It’s totally unfair he has that perception given his resume. But he looks like a kid in a college debate on all the Sunday shows. He’s not a genius in business or educational background like Romney and Jindal. He isn’t as emotionally connected to blue-collar and religious conservatives the way Palin and Huckabee are. And he doesn’t show the toughness that Gingrich or Sanford show when calling out Democrats on bad ideas.

Pawlenty on paper is exactly what we want. But in the real world, Hollywood stopped giving Affleck anything more than a supporting role.

Maybe the guy just doesn’t have it.

Some of that shows how much politics changes in just 2 years. But replace Palin with Bachmann, Sanford with Perry, and (believe it or not) Gingrich with Ron Paul as the Idea Man candidate and the 2012 primary for Pawlenty went as predicted.

Excuse me while I buy a lottery ticket.

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