Tim Pawlenty, 50, former governor of Minnesota has placed himself in the running for the Republican presidential candidate spotlight, and with more candidates dropping out of the race, the focus is even tighter on Pawlenty. The question Americans are asking now is “Who is Tim Pawlenty and is will he generate enough support to get himself on the Republican ticket in 2012?”. Pawlenty enters the race with plenty of experience in politics: he was Speaker of the House when he served as state representative, and then went on to serve two terms as Minnesota's governor.
Tim Pawlenty has certain appeal to Republican voters and TEA party members: he has a strong evangelical Christian background, mid-western roots, and “tough, truth-talking fiscal…” conservatism (Rucker). Pawlenty works to appear as just another all-American guy whose campaign will resemble “a good strong Buick” rather than an expensive import like a “BMW or Mercedes” (Rucker). One of the problems that Pawlenty already faces, even before he’s a household name, are the credibility of his statements. The Associated Press outlined some of the most dubious claims (CBS):
AP selected five statements made by Pawlenty through Campaign announcements and other media sources:
Pawlenty: Supports tax freezes for salaries, benefits, and downsizing the federal base (Campaign).
AP: Two year freeze already in place, except military, Congress, and federal courts.
Pawlenty: Obama’s healthcare plan is unconstitutional (USA Today).
AP: Actually, Obama cut taxes for middle class and business, campaigned for Bush-era tax cuts except for the wealthy.
Pawlenty: Pulled Minnesota out of the top 10 highest-taxes states.
AP: According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesota is still in the top 10 for highest-taxed states.
Pawlenty: Implemented a performance-based pay scale for teachers, the first in the nation.
AP: It’s a voluntary system and only a third of the districts are participating.
Pawlenty: Cato Institute rated him as an A-governor.
AP: That may be, but the objectivity of the Cato is relative since it holds primarily libertarian views.
Rucker, writing for The Washington Post, noted that while Pawlenty has Obama in his sites, he’s making himself look less credible. For example, in an effort to appear more straight-forward with his “simple style” to the American people, he showed Obama using teleprompters to give his “fancy speeches” only to have Rucker notice that he used a teleprompter himself in making his presidential campaign announcement. Whoops.
A certain amount of error is understandable and expected when people are under pressure, but Pawlenty may come off sounding hypocritical and misleading to voters if he isn’t careful. There are still 7 months of speeches, fact checking, and political blunders to get through before the Republican’s announce their choice to run against Obama and it’s sure to be a challenge for all of the candidates.
“Fact Check: Not the whole truth in Pawlenty claims; The Associated Press parses the former Minn. governor's statements on the opening-day of his GOP presidential campaign”. CBS News. 24 May 2011. <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/24/politics/main20065653.shtml>.