August 15, 2011


Pawlenty realizes he wasn't what GOP voters were looking for (Amy Gardner, August 14, 2011, Washington Post)

Pawlenty, 50, and his political team had known when he began his campaign in the spring that he would bring less money, less name recognition and less stagecraft to the effort than some of his Republican rivals. But they had believed that he would be the tortoise of the field, the contender whose economic program, "aw-shucks" likability and success in governing a left-leaning state for eight years would slowly but surely draw voters looking above all else to defeat President Obama next year.

They were wrong -- and Pawlenty's supporters and strategists said as much after he announced his withdrawal Sunday on national television. At a time when conservative Republican primary voters were looking for red-meat rhetoric and tea party-style confrontation, Pawlenty offered them an entirely different personality and record.

That helps explain why fellow Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Tex.) each garnered more than twice the number of votes as Pawlenty at the straw poll in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday with rousing messages criticizing Obama and steadfast pledges never to compromise.

"It's not that he isn't a fighter; he's won more battles than anyone else on that stage," said a source close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "The way he's run his fights is through policy and legislative battles once he's been elected. But the races were actually pretty tame. They weren't bloody campaigns. They were bloody legislative battles."

Pawlenty acknowledged the disconnect between what he had to offer and what voters seem to want.

"What I brought forward, I thought, was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing -- a two-term governor of a blue state," he said on ABC's "This Week." "But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different."

It was always going to be a tough needle to thread, because he had to win IA based solely on organization (a la Jimmy Carter) and the Mitt was going to win NH anyway, so he had to turn a win and a second into a strong SC showing. Without name recognition or money that strategy depends on the press and they aren't overly interested in rational and competent. Cute, dumb, and bug-eyed gets you magazine covers, qualified doesn't cut it.

Posted by at August 15, 2011 7:17 AM

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