OTHER VIEW: Pawlenty campaign blown outTim Pawlenty’s presidential bid never caught fire because — not to put too fine a point on it — he’s not a fiery guy.
By: The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Forum Communications
Tim Pawlenty’s presidential bid never caught fire because — not to put too fine a point on it — he’s not a fiery guy. The former Minnesota governor was among the first to jump into the Republican presidential sweepstakes pool. On Sunday, he was the first to get out. His distant third-place finish in the Iowa straw poll apparently convinced him he could not raise the funds to continue.
In the end, the strengths Pawlenty had for a national campaign did him in. His moderate politics (when compared to the other Republicans in the field) and his workmanlike record of accomplishments in Minnesota wilted in the overheated hot air from fellow Minnesotan Rep. Michele Bachmann. She captured the burn-down-the-building sentiments of tea party types by hammering relentlessly on an anti-government, anti-everything theme that was high on emotion and applause lines but short on facts and serious strategies. Pawlenty, on the other hand, advanced ideas, his governing experience and his potential appeal to a broad spectrum of the electorate. But, as he said Sunday as he left the race, “The audience was looking for something different.”
The problem for Republicans, however, is that “the audience” was the narrow, far-to-the-right participants in the Iowa straw poll, hardly representative of voters who will elect a president in November 2012. (Don’t believe it? Libertarian, gold-standard, scuttle-the-Federal Reserve Ron Paul finished second! Paul is a fascinating candidate, but he’s not exactly electable Republican mainstream.)
If Bachmann continues to campaign from the tea-party right, she will win the tea-party right all through the long Republican primary season, but little else. She could win the Iowa caucuses. She could win the South Carolina primary. She’ll have a tougher time in New Hampshire. But, given her impressive success thus far, no one should be surprised if she is among the top contenders as the primaries wind down next year.
By virtue of her personality, rhetorical skills and adherence to principles in which she believes, Bachmann has captured the imagination of a minority of disaffected, motivated Americans who have found a home in the tea party movement. They handed her a non-representative straw poll win that garnered more national news attention than it deserved. That’s what took down Pawlenty, a competent, qualified candidate who will not have the opportunity to introduce himself and his record to a wider segment of the nation’s voters.
The Forum, like The Daily Republic, is owned by Forum Communications Co.