Tim Pawlenty is working hard to make sure Polk County Republicans turn out in a big way for him in the Ames Straw Poll this Saturday. He has made four campaign stops in three days in the state’s largest county. The strategy makes sense. Located just 45 minutes from Ames, the county could have more Republicans at Saturday’s Straw Poll than all the other 98 Iowa counties combined.
The third of Pawlenty’s four Polk County events was a town hall meeting at Rich’s Brew in Johnston. 75 likely caucus goers packed the coffee shop to hear a more spirited than usual Pawlenty state his case. Just an hour after the Dow closed with a stunning 632 point drop, the former Minnesota Governor blistered Obama’s policies.
“I think it’s time that we downgraded Barack Obama from the Presidency of the United States,” Pawlenty said to the approving crowd. Pawlenty then hit a familiar theme of the need to elect someone with executive experience instead of someone who gives good speeches.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the rhetoric,” Pawlenty added. “I’m tired of the speeches. Barack Obama’s words don’t put gasoline in our car. Barack Obama’s words and speeches don’t pay our mortgage. Barack Obama’s words and speeches don’t give us a paycheck. All they do is give him an opportunity to spout off more of the things that haven’t worked.”
Pawlenty’s Polk County push might be working. Le Anne Getz, a homeschooling mom from Urbandale who supported Mike Huckabee four years ago, asked Pawlenty a question about education. Following the event, she decided to switch her Straw Poll vote from Michele Bachmann to Pawlenty. “I would most likely vote for Tim Pawlenty to keep him in the race,” Getz said. “He’s good. My friend describes him as not a firebreather, but a dragon slayer.”
The one thing that distinguishes Pawlenty from the other candidates is his record. He can point to legitimate achievements as governor of Minnesota. Although Pawlenty lacks the charisma of other candidates, his substance and record are difficult to match.
“I’ve never been not impressed with Tim Pawlenty,” said Mike Banks of Des Moines. “I first saw him speak two months ago, and everything he said about a wide range of conservative issues really clicked with me.” Banks plans to vote for Pawlenty at the Straw Poll this Saturday.
For the rest of this week, Pawlenty will focus on event in Ames and counties within a relatively quick driving distance to the Straw Poll, plus two stops in conservative western Iowa. He needs to solidify his support, and pick up new backers, in this final week to have a strong showing Saturday in Ames.
Perhaps the best advice Pawlenty has gotten in a while came at the end of his visit to Johnston. “You’ve got to get up there and give them hell Thursday,” an attendee advised. That is in reference to the upcoming presidential debate. Tim Pawlenty has that event and several campaign stops this week to convince Iowans he would be a strong leader. If he fails, so does his campaign.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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