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April 2nd, 2011

Pawlenty makes pitch to College Republicans

By Kevin Hall

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty directly asked the Iowa Federation of College Republicans to get behind his campaign Friday evening.  Pawlenty delivered a somewhat amusing and oftentimes personal keynote address at the IFCR annual conference.   Trying to show he can relate to the younger crowd, Pawlenty mixed jokes about Justin Bieber, Charlie Sheen and Lady Ga Ga with an address focused on getting government out of the way of the American Dream.

The speech was part of a full schedule of campaign events this weekend, which includes meetings with GOP and Tea Party leaders in central and northeast Iowa.  The exploratory committee Pawlenty formed two weeks ago already looks like a full-fledged presidential campaign.  He was accompanied to the IFCR event by half a dozen staffers and consultants, including Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign director Eric Woolson.

Pawlenty made it clear that he has every intention of becoming an official candidate.  “I’m going to spend the next year and a half trying to replace Barack Obama,” he told the crowd of 65.  The two-term Minnesota Governor believes his record is the right mix of social and fiscal conservatism that can appeal to a wide range of Republicans.  “I know I can win this race,” he told the College Republicans.  “I know I can unite the conservative coalition in Iowa and across the country, and also go out and win those swing states.”

Pawlenty jumped on the Charlie Sheen bandwagon early in his speech.  “We in this room may not have tiger blood like he does, but we do have something else in common with him.  There’s going to be a lot of ‘winning’ on the Republican side in 2012,” Pawlenty said to applause and laughter.

He ended the address by asking the CRs for their support.   “Please join our effort.  You won’t be disappointed.  We’re gonna get this country on the right track,” Pawlenty said.  Those in attendance that I spoke to afterwards appreciated Pawlenty’s speech.  “He hit the theme I wanted to hear,” said Jordan Grant, President of the Drake College Republicans.  “Details would be nice, but his audience here wouldn’t be up for that.”

“I really like his honesty regarding his modest upbringing and background, as well as his energy and solid stances on the issues,” said Iowa State student Ingrid Bisenius.  “He puts forth the conservative argument in a way that can make inroads on our college campuses across Iowa.”

Pawlenty is working hard to make up for his lack of name recognition.  No potential presidential candidate has spent more time and attended more events in the state than the former Minnesota Governor.  Despite a heavy investment here, it remains to be seen if Pawlenty will become a legitimate threat to win Iowa.


Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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