At the Corner, Stanley Kurtz has an all-out love letter to former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who he thinks is the unrecognized ideal candidate to beat Barack Obama:
Are we really so dense – so utterly dependent on the latest news cycle – that we are going to let a major opportunity like Pawlenty slip away out of the misplaced worry that he’s got “no name recognition?”
That is a solvable problem. Just watch: “Hey, Tim Pawlenty was a great conservative two-term governor of Minnesota! He’s tough on defense, conservative on social issues, and well liked by people from both sides of the aisle. He’s faced down Democrats time and again and won. He’s got the biography of a lunch-bucket Democrat and the outlook of a fiscally conservative Republican. And he can win! Yes, Tim Pawlenty can beat Barack Obama in a head-to-head battle for the presidency of the United States. Wake up, Republicans! The answer to your prayers is already running.
Pawlenty’s record as governor is undeniably impressive, possibly the strongest of all possible GOP candidates when you consider that Minnesota is a blue state. Clearly he’s a good executive.
Unfortunately, to become the chief executive one has to be a great politician as well, and in that respect Pawlenty, so far, hasn’t been as impressive. It’s very early, but his weak disavowal of the Ryan plan and his defense of ethanol subsidies have been uninspiring. Furthermore, his name recognition is his own responsibility, and if he lacks it…that says something about his political abilities.
That being said, in a primary field that includes a frontrunner with massive obstacles to overcome (Romney), and a bunch of more right-wing candidates who would probably face a harder path in the general election, Pawlenty’s best strategy might be to try to win simply by default. So far he’s doing fairly well.