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.
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