Pawlenty, other aspirants travel for foreign credMinnesota governor leaves today for Brazil, Chile
ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Pawlenty can’t see Russia from his house. Neither could former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, of course, but her suggestion that Russia’s proximity to her home state made for foreign policy chops was spoofed endlessly during the 2008 campaign.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Pawlenty can’t see Russia from his house.
Neither could former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, of course, but her suggestion that Russia’s proximity to her home state made for foreign policy chops was spoofed endlessly during the 2008 campaign. The Minnesota Republican won’t be such an easy target — he’s a globe-trotter whose trade missions, troop visits and stops at exclusive international conferences have taken him to Baghdad, Bangalore, Beijing and points beyond.
As such, Tiny Fey won’t be able to poke fun at his passport on “Saturday Night Live” should he run for the White House. But with the 2012 Iowa caucuses still some two years away, Pawlenty is quick to dismisses the suggestion that his overseas travel — his latest trade mission departs today for Brazil and Chile — has been meant to serve anything but Minnesota’s interests.
“That isn’t why we do it,” Pawlenty said this week. The trade missions and troop visits in particular are “obvious and worthy uses of a governor’s time.”
Still, one of the first tests for him and other White House hopefuls will be whether they have what it takes to steer the U.S. through wars, diplomacy, treaties, trade matters and other global issues. Candidates also must show the mettle required of the commander in chief, with the nation at war in Iraq and Afghanistan and facing nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea.
Proving they can measure up is often toughest for governors, whose job descriptions limit their international reach.
As governor, Palin had stuck so close to home that her foreign policy credentials were immediately questioned when Sen. John McCain picked her as his running mate. She had traveled only once outside North America before landing on the national stage, and was ridiculed by Fey and others who touted Alaska’s proximity to Russia as foreign policy experience.
Pawlenty will have more travel on his resume, but his long trips abroad doesn’t automatically translate into unimpeachable foreign policy credentials.
“If you overstate that, it can backfire,” said Mark Dillen, a former Foreign Service officer who blogs for the nonpartisan Foreign Policy Association.