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February 7th, 2011

Number Three: Tim Pawlenty

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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By Craig Robinson

Current Status: Falling

I’ll be really honest with you.  I don’t know where Governor Pawlenty belongs on this list.  I think it’s safe to say that Pawlenty deserves a top five spot on the list based on the fact that he’s one of the most aggressive presidential campaigners in the state, has some of the most experienced Republican operatives in Iowa guiding him through the process, and he is currently the only candidate with a full time staffer on the ground in Iowa.  However, while Pawlenty has laid a good foundation in Iowa, it’s difficult to see where he goes from here.

The well-spoken neighboring governor from the north has already shown the ability to relate to Iowans.  During his numerous appearances in Iowa over the past couple of years, he has embraced Iowa’s First-In-The-Nation status by calling them, “a wonderful demonstration of democracy at a grassroots level. The people of Iowa take it very seriously, and they take time to learn about the candidates and their positions. There is a great fidelity that the people of Iowa attach to the process. It’s a terrific and helpful tradition. I have great respect for the caucuses, and Iowa should retain their status.”

While Iowans are comfortable with him and his Midwest roots allow him to relate well with Iowans, Pawlenty lacks a natural caucus constituency that is necessary if you want to win Iowa.  In many ways, Pawlenty should appeal to most caucus goers.  He’s pro-life, a proven tax cutter, and has shown the ability to be successful in a state that is difficult for Republicans.  Yet, he doesn’t own the pro-life issues like a candidate like Rick Santorum does, he’s not going to be the big idea guy like Newt Gingrich will be, and he can’t take credit for the RGA’s 2010 victories like Haley Barbour will.  You get the picture.

Maybe the biggest obstacle that has come his way is Michele Bachmann’s potential presidential candidacy.  When asked about Bachmann, Pawlenty has said all of the right things, but let’s be honest, having a fellow Minnesotan in the race will complicate things for him.    When that first poll comes out that shows either of them trailing the other it will be a major blow to whoever comes up short.  This is a presidential race.  There will be only one winner, and the thought that both can somehow coexist is ridiculous.

Some believe that Pawlenty is Mitt Romney without the flip-flops and the albatross known as Romneycare.  Pawlenty’s problem is that he’s probably going to be a lot of people’s second choice.   For that to benefit him, he needs to see some big-name candidates drop out because, obviously, if people’s first choice is still on the ballot, that’s who they will be voting for.

Pawlenty has a lot of good things in place and shouldn’t be over-looked.  However, if he wants to win the caucuses, he will need some defining issues that he can use to attract supporters to his campaign.


About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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