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Pawlenty: No disappointment in VP pick

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Pawlenty: No disappointment in VP pick
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

ST. PAUL - To listen to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, you would think "disappointment" is not in his vocabulary.

"I'm not a person who gets hung up on what I didn't get or don't have," the Republican governor said.

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When reporters, mostly from Minnesota, cornered Pawlenty after he spoke to the Minnesota convention delegation, he said he was not disappointed he finished second to Palin.

"You could say I was fully considered," Pawlenty said, adding that he had several conversations on he subject with John McCain's campaign.

For more than two years, he was thought to be one of McCain's top vice presidential options. He usually would brush aside questions about it with lines such as: "I already have a day job."

Pawlenty said he did not learn that he lost the veep sweepstakes until Friday morning, hours before McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his choice.

"That whole week, it was unclear what was going to happen," he said.

After the convention ends Thursday, Pawlenty returns to full time as governor. He already is working on next year's budget plan, he said.

"Nothing changes," the governor said Wednesday when asked about how life is different now that more than two years of speculation about his vice presidential prospects had ended. "I am doing the same things I always do."

That's not exactly true. During the Republican National Convention, he has been one of the most sought-after interviews of the national and international media. He started Wednesday morning with an interview in a downtown cafe, then headed to the Xcel Energy Center for interviews by more reporters.

Sure, he may have been even more in demand had McCain picked him as a running mate instead of Palin. But political pundits nationwide say Pawlenty now is known across the country, so his political future is bright.

"Gov. Pawlenty is a real winner," Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey said of the vice presidential contest. "He has been introduced to the country."

POW talk

Charlie Plumb stepped up onto the platform in front of Minnesota's convention delegation and paced back and forth a few times.

Then he turned to the Minnesotans and told them that the 8-foot by 8-foot platform was exactly the size of his cell when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

He had the audience's attention and explained that during part of his 2,000-day-plus imprisonment, he was next McCain. Being a POW does not qualify one to be a president, Plumb said, but it does help show a person's character.

Hardly an hour goes by at this convention that someone fails to mention that McCain was a Vietnam war prisoner of war.

Often, the topic crops up several times an hour.

Wasilla loves her

Sarah Palin may not be well known to most Americans, but her hometown residents know plenty.

Minnesota alternate delegate Arles Kumpula of New York Mills said one of her sons just returned home from visiting another one in Alaska.

When he went through Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, he saw signs plastered all over the place proclaiming: "We will miss you."

The Palin pick surprised Alaskans, who did not even realize their governor was in the running, Ashleigh Leitch said.

Leitch, an alternate delegate to last week's Democratic National Convention in Denver, said the Minnesota and Alaska delegations shared a hotel in Denver and she was with Alaskans when McCain announced Palin would be his running mate.

"They had no idea," Leitch, of Willmar, said of Alaska Democrats.

The selection is puzzling because Palin was not really a national figure, wasn't vetted as well as other running mate contenders and has a short resume, Leitch said.

Late night

If Republican National Convention delegates looked tired Wednesday, it may have been because some stayed up late the night before mingling with agribusiness officials and listening to rock music at a Minneapolis event center.

Delegates, lobbyists and others filled the Minneapolis Depot late Tuesday for AgNite, a party meant to celebrate the food and agriculture industries.

Some 7,000 invitations were distributed, but organizers anticipated a crowd of only half that. Still, the hall was full when 1970s-era bank Styx took the stage.

Aside from hosting a big-name music act, AgNite also may have been the first event to have a red carpet lined with corn stalks.

State Capitol Bureau reporter Scott Wente contributed to this report.

State Capitol reporters are blogging from the Republican National Convention at www.areavoices.com/CapitolChat.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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