February 25, 2005


Conservatives Say Pawlenty Is Potential Presidential Candidate: Minnesota Governor Has a Conservative Fan Base -- Those Who Are Hunting for the Ideal Candidate (MARC AMBINDER, Feb. 10, 2005, ABC News)

The confetti had barely settled after the inauguration of George W. Bush when hundreds of the nation's top conservative activists gathered in Orlando, Fla., during the last week in January for a meeting of the Council on National Policy.

Members of the council, an influential and private group that works behind the scenes to influence Republican politics, were already pondering the election in 2008.

Several noted that for the first time in many presidential cycles, prominent social conservatives have yet to identify a potential favorite.

In informal conversations, as described by two of the participants, more than a dozen names were thrown around -- most notably that of popular conservative Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Other potential candidates such as Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were discussed as well, though Bush has said he will not run in 2008.

The participants, including respected commentator Paul Weyrich and the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly, agreed that prominent conservatives should coordinate efforts to cultivate the candidate who best represents "values voters," and Pawlenty fits that description.

"He seems to be in line with the views of what we now call the 'values voters,' which are very important to the future of the Republicans," said Weyrich, who says he remains undecided about whom he'll support in 2008.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2005 9:30 AM

The idea presumably being that MN and WI were so close last time that if Pawlenty can tip them over to the GOP, he's a winner.

Posted by: John Thacker at February 25, 2005 9:33 AM

Pawlenty seems like a down-to-earth guy, very different from Rudy (a celebrity), McCain (an egomaniac), Frist (too detached), and even Mitt Romney.

But the GOP took losses in MN in 2004, and if Pawlenty wants to run, he needs GOP gains in 2006.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 25, 2005 9:49 AM

All people handicapping candidates must first ask themselves "What will George say?" or "WWGS" for short. If President Bush endorses someone either dircetly ("I endorse") or indirectly (Jeb or Condi announce), that person will get the nomination, period. If he stays out, then normal analysis can begin.

Posted by: Bob at February 25, 2005 10:30 AM

Let's start by applying the "Billy Owen test", and see (and hope) whether he can get a Rep elected to Dayton's empty seat. 2004 was a bit of a disappointment for the GOP in MN. Relative to 2000, Bush closed the gap vs. tthe opposition, but saw it widen vs. the Dems.

Posted by: Moe from NC at February 25, 2005 11:02 AM

Pawlenty is a great guy, and his wife and I are both alums of the same small Christian college, so I'd be a big fan of this. If the MNGOP is successful in 2006, then he'd make a great top of the ticket with Rice if Jeb doesn't run.

Posted by: Timothy at February 25, 2005 1:00 PM

Long-time Gopher Staters regret that it's no longer one big cold commune. Also, it's about time to get a pres from north of the Mason-Dixon.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at February 25, 2005 1:30 PM

Bob's correct. Unless something totally unexpeted happens, the elephant in the room for 2008 is the base's unprecedented loyalty to GWB.

Posted by: Dan at February 25, 2005 3:50 PM
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