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Pawlenty one of two ‘realistic finalists’ in McCain’s VP search, Washington Post says

A Washington Post explainer today looks deeply into Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential choice last fall, and Gov.

A Washington Post explainer today looks deeply into Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential choice last fall, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty features prominently.

The article was adopted from the book “The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election,” by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson.

By late August, the authors say, Pawlenty was one of two “realistic finalists,” Sarah Palin being the other, even though most in the media figured it was Pawlenty and Mitt Romney.

Say the authors:

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Pawlenty was young and vigorous, a conservative who had grown up in a blue-collar family — his father was a truck driver — and he was anti-abortion. He had won reelection in the Democratic year of 2006 and was seen as a future leader of the GOP, an advocate of modernizing the party without abandoning its conservative principles. Though not particularly flashy, he was seen as a more than credible choice, a running mate who might keep the Upper Midwest competitive. He was the safe choice if Palin faltered.

An adviser told McCain he:

needed to scramble the race; Palin’s profile would reestablish his reform image; Pawlenty was credible and acceptable, but once the convention was over he would disappear. 

Another adviser argued that:

Palin was untested nationally and a high risk. He also said that, for all the talk about “country first” in his campaign, McCain could be accused of making a political choice designed only to help him win the election, not enhance his ability to govern. Pawlenty, he argued, was solid, had an attractive biography, and could talk to both the Republican base and swing voters.

After hearing those two sides, he offered the job to Palin.