Pawlenty's veep credentials explored
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty is widely considered to be on the short list of possible running mates to GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain. However, Pawlenty continues to deny he is interested in the job, and speculation over whether he's ...
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty is widely considered to be on the short list of possible running mates to GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain.
However, Pawlenty continues to deny he is interested in the job, and speculation over whether he's cut out to be the vice president of the United States was further intensified by a panel of experts Monday at a discussion of the vice presidency at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, speaking via telephone, made the case that since McCain has strong credibility in foreign affairs, he could benefit from a running mate who could assist him on domestic issues. Without mentioning Pawlenty by name, Thompson added that McCain should look for somebody from the upper Midwest.
"If you look at a map of blue and red states, you need to look at states on the bubble," Thompson said. "The three most important states for Republicans are Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. So, I think McCain should look for a governor from the upper Midwest or a legislator who can help in the health care arena."
Thompson also mentioned youth as being an important trait for McCain's running mate.
"McCain is going to be the oldest president, if elected, to be sworn in on his first term," Thompson said, "so he would want to be sure somebody who's vice president will have the opportunity to grow into that job (should they need to step in for the president)."
Pawlenty, 47, has been a strong supporter of McCain, even last year when most pundits had written off a McCain candidacy. McCain has said Pawlenty is someone who possesses "the kind of leadership that I'd like to pass the torch to."
As for Pawlenty's denials he has even spoken with McCain about being his running mate, University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs calls that a "pro forma" response. Jacobs said Pawlenty would never come out and talk about being a candidate for vice president because it would immediately constrain McCain.
"It would also be potentially devastating for him politically if he's not chosen," Jacobs said. "Which, in truth, is a real possibility. This is the standard dance of vice presidential candidates. They put out a disclaimer about being interested. But, I'm almost certain, if the call came, he would most certainly answer it."
In an interview Monday, Pawlenty again dismissed talk of him joining McCain's presidential ticket.
"It's just speculation," he said, "and these decisions will be made down the road. I'm honored to have my name mentioned."
Reporter Scott Wente contributed to this story. Helms and Wente work for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.