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Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Minnesota's budget shortfall is the result of the national and international "economic collapse" affecting nearly all states' budgets. (Scott Wente/Minn. State Capitol Bureau)

As others see it: Pawlenty put too much stock in Iowa

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opinion Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

Weeks and certainly months from now, Tim Pawlenty's withdrawal from the 2012 Republican presidential race will barely be remembered. Nationally, that already might be the case. Plus, it's a reality of presidential politics. ...

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In Pawlenty's case, it appears image was everything. And -- perhaps to his downfall -- he believed Iowa was, too.

As far back as 2007, when he was being considered a potential vice presidential running mate for John McCain, Pawlenty drew national criticism for lacking the passion and political charisma to attract voters.

Ultimately, that was a perception he failed to change, even when he lambasted competitor Michele Bachmann in a debate, yet she throttled him (and others) in Iowa's straw poll.

For the record, it may be true that Pawlenty is far from the fiery speaker needed in these days of 24/7 media coverage. But having talked with him several times when he was governor, this board knows he is well-versed in more than just political rhetoric.

He not only knows where he stands on policy matters, but he knows why.

To be blunt, that's something Bachmann and others still running have yet to prove.

Why Iowa?

Perhaps the biggest strategical question to ask Pawlenty is why he bet three years' worth of campaigning on Iowa and the Ames straw poll? After all, he had built a solid national network of supporters -- both in and out of Republican circles.

Also, he had to know -- as front-runner Mitt Romney does -- that Iowa's spotlight would shine brightest on the hardest-line, loudest-talking socially conservative candidates.

And he's not one of them. He's "Sam's Club," not "WWJD?"

So why did he go "all in" on Iowa? Why not employ a strategy that lets his comparatively moderate views at least be seen by Republicans outside of Iowa?

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