Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been seen as a insignificant factor in the Republican Presidential race, having far less voter recognition than his potential major opponents–Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum.
But several things have occurred which improve his chances of being a serious candidate:
Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, both regional Midwestern potential candidates, decided not to run for President, giving him a boost in Iowa, the first measure of party support on February 6, 2012.
Rumors are flying that Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin may not run for President, due to the lucrative positions they have with Fox News Channel, plus other money making activities for Palin.
All of the other major Presidential possibilities, and even some of the minor ones, have “skeletons in the closet”, major negatives that can hurt them, such as:
Mitt Romney–He is seen as having promoted a health care plan in Massachusetts similar to what President Obama was able to achieve nationally in 2010. Also, he is seen by many as secretly a northeastern liberal in his background, and being a Mormon hurts him with evangelical Christians. Plus he had one go around already and lost to John McCain.
Mike Huckabee–He has had one go around already, is seen as a big spender during his years as Governor of Arkansas, and may not want to give up the lucrative income he has recently enjoyed for the first time in his life. Plus he seems concerned with the costs of running for President against President Obama, who will probably have a billion dollar campaign fund.
Sarah Palin–She has not developed a real set of plans to run, may not want to give up her lucrative income to run, and is actually not running well in many polls, since she is seen as shallow, and more of a cult figure than a serious Presidential possibility.
Newt Gingrich–He has a lot of personal life scandals in his past, has not been in public office for 14 years by 2012, and is very divisive in his rhetoric, making him less appealing to many who think of him as a “flame thrower”.
Haley Barbour–He has made major blunders with his lack of understanding and miscues about the civil rights movement in his home state of Mississippi in the 1960s, plus the question exists whether someone from the deep South can appeal to the nation at large.
Rick Santorum–He has the problem of a massive Senate defeat for reelection in 2006, and his being best remembered for his “man-dog” statement in opposing gay rights and gay marriage. He is not taken very seriously as a Presidential candidate by anyone in top leadership of the GOP.
Other candidates also have major problems if they decide to run.
Jon Huntsman–He has a background as a moderate in the party, which is not a plus. Plus he was Barack Obama’s Ambassador to China, which could be harmful, and being a Mormon, as Romney is, is probably a major minus as well.
Michele Bachmann–The Congresswoman from Minnesota may appeal to the Tea Party and could be a rival of fellow Minnesotan Pawlenty, but it is hard to imagine that her loose mouth and extremist image would give her a serious chance for the nomination. Plus being a Congresswoman is a difficult challenge for the Presidency, as only one Congressman (James Garfield) ever went directly to the Presidency, and he was dead by assassination six months into his term in 1881.
Ron Paul–He has his followers, and has won the CPAC straw poll twice in a row, but to imagine a libertarian in his late 70s who has tried before for the nomination, and been ridiculed by all others in the party who have run for President, to go on to the nomination is a tremendous long shot, hard to conceive.
Donald Trump–The billionaire businessman is pretty obnoxious and a publicity seeker, and were he to run, his anti Chinese rhetoric and basic belligerence on foreign policy issues would make him a dangerous choice for the Presidency, and since he is not a lovable character personally, it is hard to imagine him going all the way to the nomination.
The above analysis does not mean that none of them can be the nominee, but by comparison , Tim Pawlenty has a real chance to emerge, based on the following factors.
He is from the heartland of the Midwest, the battleground for 2012, and with Mike Pence and John Thune out of the race, that is a boost for Pawlenty.
He first gained notice with John McCain’s campaign for President in 2008, and was on the short list for Vice President, but with McCain’s defeat, it actually was better that he did not win the VP nomination.
Pawlenty is a strong evangelical Christian, and has gained a lot of support from social conservatives and the Tea Party as a result.
He has had real executive experience as Governor of Minnesota for two terms and a total of eight years.
He has been promoted as a candidate with fewer problems, issues, and “skeletons in the closet”, by conservative George Will and MSNBC talk show host Lawrence O’Donnell, giving him, therefore, a bit of a boomlet for the Presidency.
Pawlenty comes across well on television, as a photogenic personality and well spoken, and even at times having a good sense of humor, when he said at the CPAC convention that he had no doubts of Barack Obama’s citizenship, but thought what he believed in sometimes might make one think he was from “outer space!”
This is not an endorsement by this author of Pawlenty by any means, as he strongly prefers Barack Obama to win reelection, but simply a statement that Pawlenty may be the surprise of 2012, and should not be ignored.
Having said that, the author still feels that the best candidate that the GOP could run, overall, would be Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman, but again, Tim Pawlenty will probably be an important part of the equation at the end!