When I first heard the rumblings about Tim Pawlenty being a possible vice presidential choice for Mitt Romney, I wrote them off as idle speculation. However, in the last month or so, these rumblings have grown louder and louder and it appears that more and more people are viewing Pawlenty as a legitimate contender for the VP slot. In fact, a certain silver haired radio shock jock with a striking resemblance to a beloved Christmas movie character even has elevated Pawlenty as one of the top two picks for Romney to consider. And a story at Buzzfeed today noted that a new report on Minnesota’s better than average economic performance from 2007-2011 likely improved the odds that Pawlenty gets the nod.
Now, I like Tim Pawlenty and actually once viewed him as a viable alternative to Romney before his primary campaign imploded and he met his Waterloo in Waterloo. But he would be a terrible choice for Romney’s running mate. Here are the top there reasons why:
1. Again, I like Pawlenty and when I’ve met him personally a few times have found him to be engaged, witty, and gregarious. For some reason those two latter qualities just don’t seem to come through when he’s been on the national stage. Instead, he’s often appeared wooden, stiff, and yes BORING. And the last thing Mitt Romney needs right now is another boring guy to share the ticket with. Maybe such things shouldn’t matter when it comes to picking our national leaders, but they do. (You could say that Paul Ryan-my preference for VP-isn’t exactly lightning in a bottle either, but I would disagree. Ryan, while perhaps a bit wonky at times, is smart and articulate and has become quite good at distilling a complex message down into something that ordinary Americans can understand and appreciate. Nothing boring about that.)
2. Despite what some national pundits have said, adding Pawlenty to the ticket will not help Romney a lick in the electoral college. Romeny could add Zach Parise as his VP and he still wouldn’t win Minnesota. And the idea that somehow Pawlenty will sway voter to Romney in Iowa or Wisconsin is silly. If Tim Pawlenty is so popular in Iowa, why did he perform so poorly there during the primary campaign? I think Romney could win both Iowa and Wisconsin, but it won’t be because Pawlenty is his running mate.
3. There are still a lot of conservatives out there who have doubts about Mitt Romney (myself included). Sure we’ll vote for him because the alternative of four more years of President Obama is a distressing one to consider. But we’re not going to be as energized and excited as we might be if Romney were joined by someone with real conservative cred. And that my friends ain’t Tim Pawlenty. Again, I like Pawlenty and appreciate what he did here as Governor of Minnesota (mostly). But Pawlenty’s terms of office occurred almost entirely during the pre-Tea Party era. The reforms that he enacted were modest. The budget and tax battles that he fought were important for Minnesotans, but lacked the fervor, intensity, and national impact of others of more recent days. His accomplishments and reputation don’t compare well to other Republican governors like Scott Walker, Chris Chritie, or Bobby Jindahl. He hasn’t put forward bold, sweeping plans for reforms like Paul Ryan has done. This might sound a might harsh, but in some ways Tim Pawlenty is yesterday’s news. And no one is going to get excited about that.
The bottom line is that there are good reasons for Mitt Romney to look elsewhere for his vice presidential running mate, especially with many other better candidates out there.
THE NIHILIST CONCURS, BUT: Pawlenty is a nice guy and probably a good pick for a post like Secretary of Commerce or Agriculture, but just isn't the best guy to be on the ticket. However, in light of the Drudge Report story that Condoleeza Rice is Romney's preferred choice, Pawlenty looks much better. I can't think of a dumber move for Romney than tying himself to the Bush administration, especially someone closely associated with the two wars that led to its unpopularity. Such a VP pick would, in my opinion sway the odds strongly in favor of President Obama.
THE ELDER AMENS: Quite true. As bad a pick as Pawlenty might be, he would be far better than Condi. I only had three reasons why T-paw shouldn't be Romney's choice for veep. Ramesh Ponnuru has eleven reasons why picking Ms. Rice would be a mistake in The Case Against Condi.