So Marc Amdinder wrote a very silly article yesterday, suggesting that Pawlenty maybe ought to skip Iowa and focus on defeating Mitt in New Hampshire. He writes:
Pawlenty’s main strategic challenge would be New Hampshire — figuring out how to defeat the Romney machine there. It might not be hard; since there won’t be a Democratic primary, as many as 60,000 independents could decide to vote Republican. Appealing to these independents on economic issues — and comforting them on social issues — is the test.
I happen to think Pawlenty’s a great fit for NH. He’s wears his social conservatism lightly, he’s pro-gun in a way Romney isn’t, and his laser-like focus on budgets will play well in the Granite State. Ross Perot ran better than average there in 1992. Still, it would be a terrible mistake for Pawlenty to skip Iowa. As Minnesota Independent notes, Pawlenty is an evangelical whose pastor heads up the National Association of Evangelicals, a group 30 million strong. He’s on friendly terms with the Dobsons. But, perhaps most importantly, Iowa is the rare primary state where the electorate is conservative, but not movement conservative. Movement conservatives hate Mike Huckabee, but there’s no sign that any significant contignent of Iowans have a problem with him.
This matters because Pawlenty will have a problem with movement conservatives. Not a Huckabee sized problem, but a problem nonetheless. His Sam’s Club rhetoric and interest in climate change, make him a highly suspect character in some circles. And of course, he doesn’t have the obvious star-power of a Palin. He needs to compete in a few places that take advantage of his strengths. In Iowa and NH, his amazing skill with retail politics- an area where he’s garnered comparisons to Bill Clinton- will come in handy, and his ideological strengths will play fairly well. What does he have to lose, anyway? Unlike Romney, Pawlenty has no high early expectations He also doesn’t have a reservoir of strength elsewhere, which might allow him to play for a later victory. He needs to make a splash in Iowa, even if he doesn’t win there, to have a chance in NH and South Carolina.
Exciting. Pawlenty offers up a series of proposals to reform MinnesotaCare next year. Fox reports:
Pawlenty’s three-pointed plan includes:
Allowing Minnesotans to purchase health insurance from other states.
- Requiring state-supported health plans MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance to use ratings on the quality and cost of providers to set rates.
- Building incentives for Minnesotans who choose higher quality and lower cost providers.
- Under Pawlenty’s proposal, MinnesotaCare plans would have a higher deductible and the state would contribute to an electronic benefits card that could be used to cover out-of-pocket health expenses. Money left over on the card would remain with the enrollee to be used in the following year.
Pawlenty says the higher deductible coupled with the card would push people to choose higher-quality, cheaper providers and that would maximize the value of the state contribution.
Very interesting stuff. I’d like to hear much more about the last point. This electronic benefits card, with rollover, looks vaguely like something Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam mentioned in their book Grand New Party. It also looks a bit like a health savings account, or the partial privatization idea for social security. Note, when the state refers to MinnesotaCare, its mostly talking about the state supported plans, not private plans. So this doesn’t expand government, though it’ll probably lower costs and expand coverage.
To headline a November equivalent to the Ronald Reagan dinner, according to the National Journal:
Des Moines Register‘s Beaumont reports, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is heading to IA on 11/7 to headline the state GOP’s fall fundraiser — his first visit of the cycle to the leadoff caucus state.
IA GOP exec. dir. Jeff Boeynik told the Register: “We are proud to announce that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has agreed to headline our Republican fall event. … Gov. Pawlenty is the kind of leader we’re looking for.”
The fall fundraiser takes the place of what has traditionally been called the Ronald Reagan dinner, and is “aimed at bringing out rank-and-file” GOPers. The ticket price for what’s being called “Leadership for Iowa” is $25 “instead of the higher prices the Reagan dinner has typically fetched.”
It’s hard to pin down exact dates, but here’s what my research has turned up about the 2008 cycle Iowa visits. On September 26 and 27, 2005 Mike Huckabee made his first visit to Iowa and claimed to be considering a Presidential run. That’s equivalent to Sept of 2009, in this cycle. So T-Paw’s a little behind Huckabee in this metric. Mitt Romney had made 9 visits to Iowa by Sept of 2006 (though that included campaign events for Bush in 2004), so Pawlenty’s probably behind Romney circa 2008. But, most of the other candidates waited til 2006 to grace Iowa’s borders. I’m glad to see him make this move and, to me, it suggests he’s serious about competing in the first caucus.
So Newt Gingrich made news this weekend in a Politico interview. He praised Pawlenty:
“Governor Pawlenty is a terrific talent, he’s a very attractive guy and he has a good reform record,” Gingrich told POLITICO over the weekend after his speech to the annual Americans for Prosperity conference in Washington.
Pawlenty is “certainly going to be a player. There is every reason he should run, there is wide open field right now,” Gingrich said. “He’s an example that the future of the Republican Party is bright and that we have lots of talent.”…
“He’s going to add new energy and more excitement to the game,” the former Republican House speaker of Georgia said of Pawlenty. “He’s going to draw more Republicans in and make our chances in 2010 even better.”
He also lavished praise on Romney. But, then, on his own ambitions:
“Probably in February in 2011 I’ll sit down and make a very difficult decision,” he said. “We’ll see what the environment is like. We’ll see what the circumstances are and whether or not in order to get those solutions adopted I need to be a candidate.”
Newt’s playing a very interesting game here. On the one hand he’d like to be President. All this stuff about it being a “difficult” decision is hooey. It’s only a difficult decision because Newt is also pragmatic and has no interest in losing terrifically, a very real possibility in a primary, and a likelihood in a general. If Newt thought he could win, he’d jump in tomorrow. So he’s playing a waiting game. But, in the meantime, it does make some sense to put himself in the most positive light possible. For the last few years, he’s been trying the conciliator approach and this is maybe his last chance to see if it moves the dial. So he’ll praise Pawlenty and Romney, to the sky if necessary, and hope his negatives turn around a bit. Still, it’s always nice to get a heavyweight on record praising your candidate. It’ll now be much harder for Newt to go negative on Pawlenty if they end up competitors.
So I have a post over at Race42012 noting Pawlenty’s savvy new PAC and PAC-team. Read it (though you probably came from there anyway). But, I’d like to get into a little bit more analysis here. Basically, the piece notes that Pawlenty has made big dents with both establishment Republicans and the grassrootsy Republican web-mavens like Patrick Ruffini. This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been saying…well, since at least January, that Pawlenty’s greatest strength is his ability to be a bridge between the heartland and the headland (DC). Every successful GOP candidate, and practically every successful Presidential candidate, has managed to straddle that line.
Think of 43. Yalie son of Connecticut Yankee, become twanging oil-barron and baseball owner. Think of Bill. Blue-Collar Southerner become Rhodes Scholar Yalie. Think of 41. Connecticut blue-blood become World War II hero. It’s almost impossible to unify your party and win the Presidency without this sort of straddling. Obama JUST managed it and only locked down the blue-collar vote after the financial collapse. Before that, despite essentially maxing out margins with white-collar voters, young voters, intellectuals, and blacks, he looked like a bare favorite during the most Democratic year since 1964.
I like Mitt Romney and think he’d make a fine President. I love Sarah Palin and I think she makes an exemplary citizen. But, neither one is going to be able to straddle that divide. Certainly, they won’t manage it without wrecking their appeal outside the party. Pawlenty can. He can cultivate young voters and grassroots types, while still impressing guys like Terry Nelson and Alex Conant. Something to keep in mind.
Jack Jodell of the so-called Moderate Voice has written a ludicrous screed attacking Pawlenty. I plan to address more of it in the next few days, but for now, I’ll focus on Jodell’s bizarre contention that Pawlenty is somehow abandoning his duties as Governor by traveling out of state. He writes:
[Pawlenty] is now galavanting all across the country making speeches and appearing in support of conservative Republican candidates everywhere in a Nixonesque attempt to build party support for his own 2012 presidential candidacy. In the process, he has abandoned his responsibilites as Chief Executive of his own state in the best Sarah Palin tradition, the only difference being he has not officially resigned his post.
What are we supposed to make of this charge? First of all, Jodell seems to have an almost unfathomable understanding of the duties of a Governor. Minnesota statute forbids the state legislature to work for more than 120 days in a biennium. Here’s the relevant bit from the official website:
The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 120 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year (for constitutional provisions concerning the length of session and special sessions, see Minnesota Constitution, Article IV – Legislative Department).
The third Saturday in May. By my count, the regular session of the legislature was constitutionally obligated to end over 4 months ago. To go past that date, Pawlenty would have had to call a special session. When are Governors meant to call special sessions? Well, according to Article IV, section 12, of the Minnesota State Constitution, only on “extraordinary occasions”.
The state legislature website elaborates on the two reasons Governors typically call such sessions:
The legislature has not completed work on vital legislation during the time allowed for the regular session.
Changed circumstances require urgent legislative action after the regular session ends
After Pawlenty’s decision to un-allot, neither of these scenarios applied. Does Jack Jodell expect Pawlenty to proclaim an “extraordinary occasion” during an ordinary occasion? If not, it’s hard to know what he’s getting at. Let’s take a look at the Pawlenty trips MPR outlined (which I addressed in a post last week). They have 19 events listed and not one of them occurred during the 2009 legislative session. Only 4 of those 19 were personal-trips which occurred on a weekday (bolded). The remainder were weekend trips Pawlenty would have been justified taking even during a legislative session. Here’s the list:
September 26, 2009 (Saturday)- Mackinac Island Michigan
October 2, 2009 (Friday)- Rapid City, South Dakota
July 2-3, 2009 (Thursday and Friday)- Aspen, Colorado
July 24, 2009 (Friday)- Hudson, Wisconsin (state related trip)
August 14, 2009 (Friday)- Chicago, Illinois
July 8, 2009 (Wednesday)- Nashville, Tennessee (state related trip)
September 12, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida
August 22, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida
July 30, 2009 (Thursday)- San Diego, California
October 16, 2009 (Friday)- Newport Beach, California
June 26, 2009 (Friday)- Little Rock, Arkansas
September 9, 2009 (Wednesday)- Richmond, Virginia
June 5, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.
August 4-5, 2009 (Tuesday and Wednesday)- Washington, D.C. (state related trip)
June 29-30, 2009 (Monday and Tuesday)- Washington D.C. (state related trip)
September 3, 2009 (Thursday)- Hackensack, NJ
September 19, 2009 (Saturday)- Mason, Ohio
August 15, 2009 (Saturday)- Guanaybo, Puerto Rico
Now, let’s compare this to a certain former Freshman Illinois Senator. Where was Obama in 2005 (the equivalent year in the 2008 cycle)? Well, it’s hard to pin down all the specific dates, but it’s clear he WASN’T in Illinois or Washington every weekend. Here’s a bit from a late 2005 profile on Obama:
Sundays once were sacred in the Obama house, the day for school activities and reading, movies and catching up on writing in the family journal. But in the final months of the year, Obama’s political schedule began filling up, much to the chagrin of his wife.
“The hope is that that is going to change and we’re going to go back to our normal schedule of keeping Sundays pretty sacred,” she said, turning away from her interviewer and directly toward Robert Gibbs, the senator’s communications director, who helps dictate Obama’s schedule.
Here are other miscellaneous events Obama attended, out of state, that year.
Arizona: He keynoted an Arizona Democratic Party event that raked in $1 million.
Florida: December 2005 (Dinner speaker at State Convention)
Nebraska: November 2005 (Delivered a speech in Warren Buffet’s living room)
New Jersey: November 2005 (Campaigned for Corzine at multiple events)
New Jersey: March 2005 (Attended fundraiser for Lautenberg)
California: March 2005 (Met with and spoke with supporters in Los Angeles and Beverley Hills)
Massachusetts: Fall 2005 (Harvard Law School Reunion)
At least 2 of these trips occurred DURING the 2005 legislative session, when Obama had immediate duties. Where was Jack Jodell condemning Obama’s country-hopping less than a year into his first term as Senator?
To be sure, Governors have duties outside of the regular legislative session. But, as best as I can tell, they have no official constitutional or statutory duties that can’t be dealt with at the Governor’s convenience. Jack Jodell is clearly out of his depth.
So apparently the Minnesota Star Tribune commissioned a poll asking Minnesotans if Pawlenty should run for President and, if he did, whether they’d be likely to vote for him. They write:
A majority of Minnesotans don’t want to see Gov. Tim Pawlenty run for president in 2012, but nearly as many say they would give him a look if he were nominated, according to a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
The poll shows that only 30 percent of adults want to see the two-term governor make a try for the White House three years from now, while 55 percent do not.
But in a mixed message for Pawlenty, 25 percent of Minnesotans said there was a “good chance” they would vote for him if he became the GOP nominee, while another 25 percent said there was at least “some chance” they would vote for him. A solid 43 percent said there was no chance they would vote for a President Pawlenty.
Their headline gives the spin: Most Don’t Back Pawlenty Run. But, is this really bad news for T-Paw? Hardly. First of all, I can never figure out WHY they ask these particular questions over and over again when they prove to yield perfectly useless results. Rasmussen asked the second question repeatedly throughout the 2008 race. The results? Well, here’s a snapshot from 2007, from the major Presidential contenders. Rudy had 22% definitely for and 39% definitely against, for a score of -17. Hillary had 28% definitely for and 46% definitely against (-18). Romney 15% definitely for and 37% definitely against (-22). Every single candidate was in negative territory and only Obama, a relatively cipherish Democrat in a Democratic year, and Thompson, a total cipher who’d yet to be attacked AT ALL nationally, were under -10. This is just a question which yields STRONGLY negative results. Pawlenty’s -18 suggests that he’s about as well positioned in Minnesota as Rudy and Clinton were nationally in 2007; i.e, fairly strongly positioned.
The other question isn’t much better. There are all kinds of reasons why someone wouldn’t want a particular candidate to run and, really, only one reason why they would. For instance, Romney supporters in Minnesota probably would not want Pawlenty to run. Ditto Palin or Huck supporters. Certain kinds of Obama supporters, who happen to think Pawlenty would be a strong challenger, would also answer no. It’s no indication of how much they like/respect T-Paw in a vacuum.