Using the process of elimination, New Republic editor Jonathan Chait says he’d put his money on former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to get the Republican Party’s nomination for president. At least at this point.
The National Review’s senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru also makes a case for Pawlenty this week.
Chait, a senior editor at New Republic, says the party needs a candidate who is acceptable to the elites and the base, and Pawlenty might best fit that role:
“He has demonstrated political talent, having worked his way up the party hierarchy and winning the governorship in blue-ish Minnesota twice. His record contains only one major ideological deviation — support for cap-and-trade, at a time when cap-and-trade seemed to be emerging as a consensus GOP position, which he has thoroughly recanted.“
In the end, Pawlenty’s calling card is an ability to appeal to white working-class voters … Pawlenty does not dissent in any way from the party’s plutocratic platform — his notion of working class appeal lies purely in the realm of personal style. This, too, places Pawlenty squarely in the George W. Bush mold of nominee, a reasonably (though not wildly) talented pol who uses charisma to demonstrate working-class authenticity while reliably toeing the party line.”
And Chait concludes:
“I’m not going to proclaim Pawlenty a lock or even an outright favorite. But I do see him as the leading contender, and his intrade value (currently showing a 13.5 percent chance of winning) should probably be two to three times higher. In a wide-open field, Pawlenty is where I’d place my bet.”
In the National Review, Ponnuru says:
On paper, Pawlenty is a great candidate. He was a successful governor of a deep-blue state — Minnesota last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1972 — for two terms. And he’s from an electorally important region of the country, maybe the key swing region for Republicans.
He says Pawlenty is more electable than Palin or Huckabee or others. And he likes Pawlenty’s style — at least in person:
“Pawlenty’s speeches are plainspoken. They rarely include memorable lines. Some Republican insiders wonder if he is too “Minnesota nice” to excite primary voters. In person, though, he comes across as warm, intelligent, and committed. He shows the kind of interest in people that is hard to fake, lingering at campaign events to the consternation of his schedulers. He didn’t succeed as Minnesota’s first and only conservative governor in modern times by being dull.”
And maybe he could come across as more thoughtful:
“If he does not find a truer pitch, Pawlenty could find himself developing a reputation for being inauthentic, far more damaging than one for being boring. He is likable and intelligent — as smart as Romney, says one political operative who knows both men well, but ‘coffeeshop-style smart’ rather than ‘boardroom-style smart.’ Maybe he should campaign that way. On the other hand, as one adviser puts it, “You can learn to give a better speech. You can’t get rid of an individual mandate.'”