The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny spent Wednesday watching Tim Pawlenty do Iowa the old-fashioned way, trudging from town to town, meeting with tiny groups, and used him as a contrast to the Sarah-Palin-non-candidacy-hype-express-has-dinner-with-Donald-Trump shebang going on back east. Wrote Zeleny:
By the time he arrived here to meet with 20 Republicans for afternoon coffee, he had already had lunch with 15 people in nearby Orange City, where his campaign picked up the tab for the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Pizza Ranch. He started his day at a bakery in Sioux Center, where eight people formed a semicircle around him. Along the way, he did interviews with local radio stations and newspapers, and also helped fill sandbags for flood victims in Sioux City.
At each stop, he urged Republicans to remind their neighbors to keep the end goal — electability — in mind when sizing up the ever-changing slate of candidates.
“Any doofus can get up here and give you a speech,” Mr. Pawlenty said Wednesday at a town meeting in Council Bluffs, where he addressed more people in a single setting, about 75, than he did during the entire previous day. “But who has actually done it? And who has the fortitude to take the hits under difficult circumstances and keep doing it?”
Regardless of what the Republican field eventually looks like, Mr. Pawlenty may be the beneficiary. Not only could he receive credit for taking the time to introduce himself to voters, he could also profit from the campaign experience that he has gained from being in the race for so long. “We’re not trying to elevate the volume or the rhetoric in a way that’s inauthentic,” Mr. Pawlenty said in an interview. “In different contexts, we tried out some different speeches, but we’ve come back to me being who I am, calling it like I see it, and letting the election rise or fall on that.”