Pawlenty’s travels: His profile rises, and Democrats respond

If you’ve noticed that Tim Pawlenty seems to be traveling around a lot, you’re not alone. Curtis Gilbert and Steve Mullis of Minnesota Public radio have been keeping tabs on the governor’s trips, and have conveniently mapped them here. This past Friday found Pawlenty in Washington, D.C., at the Values Voter Summit, where he surprised nobody by criticizing Obama; MPR’s Tim Pugmire quotes Pawlenty as saying “Stop spending the country into bankruptcy,” Pawlenty said. “Stop taxing us into oblivion. And the next time you address a group of young people, maybe you should apologize for the crushing debt you’re putting on their shoulders.” There is no word whether Pawlenty mentioned Minnesota’s projected $6 billion to $7 billion deficit, or who needs to apologize for that.

Politico’s Alex Isenstadt quotes a response from Democratic National Committee spokesperson Hari Seugan: “It looks like Tim Pawlenty isn’t even going to offer the pretense of being anything but an extreme right wing radical anymore. At least it’s honest, and if you’ve seen what he’s said on health care lately you know that’s a rare feat.”

Democrats have also taken aim at Pawlenty in a more official way, according to John Croman of KARE11: They’ve started a web campaign titled “Call ‘Em Out” (which can be seen here) and claim the site is an effort to counter misinformation about health care reform. Their home page takes aim directly at Pawlenty, including an image of the governor with a speech balloon emerging from his mouth and containing the word “lies.” Their specific complaint is Pawlenty’s comments in this video, in which Pawlenty seems to hint that there is some credibility to the “death panels” tale.

According to the KARE11 story, Pawlenty public relations staff has asked that all questions be directed to one Alex Conant in Washington, without telling us who Conant is; however, Conant has a Google profile that lists him as the 2008 national press secretary for the Republican National Committee and a former White House spokesman. Conant also has his own blog, consisting of a series of brief essays in response to Democrats in general and Obama in particular. Here is his response to Pawlenty’s critics, from a statement to the media: “Seriously, why is the D.N.C.’s attack squad so obsessed with T-Paw recently. The D.N.C.’s attacks are a transparent attempt to avoid serious discussion with Governor Pawlenty and other Republicans over how to fix health care.

While all this political back-and-forthing has certainly increased Pawlenty’s national profile, he still trails other potential candidates in the next election, should he try a run for the presidency (and he ain’t saying he is, although he ain’t saying he ain’t either). MPR’s Tom Scheck tells us that at the very same Values Voter Summit that Pawlenty addressed Friday, there was a straw poll of whom attendees might vote for in 2012. Pawlenty came in third, far behind Mike Huckabee and trailing Mitt Romney. To Pawlenty’s credit, however, he did get one more vote than Sarah Palin.

If we don’t know what Pawlenty will be doing in the next few years, at least we know what he won’t be doing: He won’t be governor. This leaves the job wide open for contenders, and while nobody has popped up who is as unexpected at the self-declared vampire Jonathon Sharkey, who mounted a notably unsuccessful campaign in 2006 (documented in the movie Impaler), at least one unexpected character has suggested he might run. That person is former Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad, who, according to MPR’s Tom Scheck, told MPR’s “Midday” program that while he has forcefully denied interest in running in the past, he has been so inundated with letters and emails encouraging him to run that “the door is open just a crack.” According to Scheck, another reason Ramstad is considering a run is that there are currently no moderates in the race.

On that subject, Politico offers up an interesting story by Glenn Thrush on House Minority Leader John Boehner’s often unsuccessful struggles to keep the Republican Party’s rhetoric moderate and its behavior bipartisan. Michelle Bachmann makes a brief cameo in the story, on page two: “Sources say they have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party’s reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are ‘pro-America or anti-America.'”

A 13-member team of delegates, mostly made up of health care professionals, will be heading from Minnesota to Germany this week, according to the Associated Press. Their charge: to look at the German health care system, which managed to cover everybody, and which has a system of private health care insurance that is overseen by the government.

Those of you who have been fearing that the King of Diamonds gentleman’s club might close now that its former owner former owner, Larry Kladek, is going to do federal prison time, fear not! According to Joy Powell of the Star Tribune, Kladek’s wife has taken over the club and plans to keep it running. The story is possibly most notable for the way Powell cuts right to the chase with her lede sentence: “The naked women strut on 9-inch heels, illuminated by scores of neon beer signs at the King of Diamonds Gentleman’s Club in Inver Grove Heights.” Pure poetry, that.

We’ve got to find a way to do it from the start,” Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune quotes Brett Favre in a story about their victory over the Lions, which was the result of a late-game rally. The story also quotes Brad Childress as saying, “There is no such thing as a bad win,” but notes that the Vikings coach probably “wasn’t so kind behind closed doors.” The Pioneer Press notes that Favre seems to have injured his hand at the end of the game, and while Favre dismissed the injury, saying, “It’s fine,” it’s sort of hard to hear things like that and not think, well, here he goes, that’s the end of the Favre saga. Favre’s relationship with the Vikings, in which he has blown hot, then cold, then lukewarm, and then somehow managed to blow both hot and cold simultaneously, seems to have inspired a performance at the Brave New Workshop. MinnPost’s David Hawley tells us it is called “Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular: The Immaculate Interception.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 09/21/2009 - 10:04 am.

    Why do you hate conservatives, Max?

    Hah! Beat you to it, Swift et al!

    On topic, there is a down side to rising your national profile. Wondering if GOP gov. candidates will start to distance themselves from Pawlenty, or seek his blessings?

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/21/2009 - 11:45 am.

    Timmy’s record here in Minnesota of at least partially dismantling everything that had worked well for the past thirty years is likely to leave every Republican candidate for governor at a distinct disadvantage (except for Ramstad, who has the same chance of gaining the GOP nomination as Arnie Carlson always did).

    As for the “values” voters attendees, those “good” folks don’t bother with past records of political destruction or laying waste to whole states as long as you support them on a few key issues. What they care more about is that you are passionate (see Mike Huckabee).

    I believe Tim’s problem is that he’s only capable of portraying passion when his angry, resentful teenage boy comes out as was the case when the Legislature overrode his veto of the transportation bill a couple of years ago. His usual easy going manner works well in the land of Minnesota “nice,” but for the “values” voters, only the delivery of red meat by someone visibly foaming at the mouth gets their irrational love and devotion.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/21/2009 - 01:40 pm.

    “There is no word whether Pawlenty mentioned Minnesota’s projected $6 billion to $7 billion deficit, or who needs to apologize for that.”

    Or word (since this is a presidential bid) on which president reduced taxes on the wealthy that amount to $979 billion and, with interest, are projected to cost almost $2.5 trillion in the 10-year period ending in 2010 (www.ctj.org report, Sept. 9 or 10). These cuts accounted for half the annual budget deficit.

    Or word on which president financed an entire war, a war based on false reasons, by selling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of bonds to China. Also to be paid back with interest.

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/21/2009 - 03:07 pm.

    “Pawlenty came in third, far behind Mike Huckabee and trailing Mitt Romney.”

    Hard to believe that Governor Pawlenty would trail a career politician that wears “magic underwear”.

  5. Submitted by david granneman on 09/21/2009 - 08:40 pm.

    it appears now we know the reaseon the NEA does not mind giving money to ACORN. it seems they are both in the same business and that is to support president obama’s agenda. released audio tapes show the NEA agreeing to requests from the white house to lean on artists recieving money from the NEA to give payback by using their art to promote the presidents agenda. it appears many of the artists responded to this illegal request.

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