Tim Pawlenty is barnstorming Iowa this week in a last ditch effort to garner enough support to be competitive in the Ames Straw Poll. The former Minnesota Governor’s strategy is to portray himself to Iowa voters as the most electable candidate, and the one with the best record. Meanwhile, Pawlenty tears down Iowa frontrunner Michele Bachmann in the media.
Pawlenty drew a crowd of 70 Tuesday at the Marshalltown Public Library. It was the second of four tour stops of the day. The reaction to his Marshalltown visit was mixed. He was interrupted by applause only once. Most of the attendees TheIowaRepublican.com spoke with afterwards like what Pawlenty said, but he failed to lock up their support.
“I was very impressed with his speech,” said Mary Blom. “”I like the way he answered the questions.” Blom’s son Daniel, 15, asked Pawlenty if he believes in “absolute truths” and what he bases those beliefs on. Pawlenty answered by discussing his faith in God and the Bible, as well as references to God in the country’s founding documents. That was exactly what Blom wanted to hear.
“We’ve asked other candidates about absolute truth and they have not answered it very well,” Blom said. “I also like his experience.” However, Blom remains undecided on which candidate she will support and has not completely decided if she will attend the Ames Straw Poll.
Another attendee, Mrs. Romaine, 78, of Marshalltown, also liked what she heard, but does not plan on attending the Straw Poll. “I was very impressed. He answered the questions directly,” Blom said. “He’d definitely be better than Barack Hussein Obama.”
Pawlenty plugged the Ames Straw Poll several times during his speech. The campaign’s expectations have significantly lowered from a few months ago. He was once considered one of the favorites to win it. Now, he just hopes to show there is support for his candidacy.
“We’re confident we are going to show progress,” Pawlenty told reporters after his speech. “Our goal between now and Ames is to move from the back of the pack toward the front of the pack. We don’t have to win it, but we have to show good progress and I’m confident that we will.”
Pawlenty’s appeals to the Marshalltown crowd to support him at the Straw Poll were followed up by staffers attempting to sign up attendees after the speech. However, the charisma challenged former Minnesota Governor is struggling to win people over. Jane Jech, a Marshall County GOP Central Committee member, introduced Pawlenty’s wife to the crowd and is a solid supporter. She hopes people will look beyond the ability to give good speeches.
“If we are a nation looking only for charisma, we’re not going to have the change we need,” Jech said. “We need to be looking for substance.”
Delivering substance is not a problem for Pawlenty. In fact, he provides more detailed policy positions than most, if not all, of the candidates in the field. But his poll numbers continue to wallow in single digits, while fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann has quickly skyrocketed to the front of the pack. Pawlenty says it would be a mistake for Republicans to elect Bachmann.
“I know her, I respect her, but there’s a big difference between being in Congress and being a Chief Executive of the United States of America,” Pawlenty said. “And as I said before, her record of results or accomplishments is non-existent. And I don’t think the country wants to make the mistake again of putting somebody in the Oval Office who hasn’t had executive leadership experience.”
Pawlenty continued by comparing Bachmann to President Obama, who was able to win over voters with soaring rhetoric. “I don’t think the country’s going to do that again. They’ve learned the lesson of big speeches and no experience with Barack Obama and it didn’t work.” (WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW)
Tim Pawlenty seems to be doing all the necessary things to do well in Iowa. He has made himself very accessible to voters. He has a large and qualified staff, several significant endorsements, and is campaigning harder than anyone right now. So far, that hard work has not translated into results. A well-organized effort at the Ames Straw Poll could rejuvenate his candidacy. A failure could bring it to a premature conclusion.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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