The New York Times is reporting that friends of Mitt Romney say that he has reached a decision about who will be his running mate. (And that he may announce this week!) Others say that Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty stand out among the rest of the candidates:
The country received only an abbreviated introduction to Mr. Pawlenty, 51, a former two-term governor of Minnesota, whose working-class roots, experience outside Washington and evangelical faith have formed the core of his appeal to a broad spectrum of Republicans.
While Mr. Romney has kept more distance from the rest of his primary challengers, he has embraced Mr. Pawlenty, seeking his advice about running against President Obama and sending him to Republican events on his behalf. They began forging a closer relationship last year on a visit to the Romney family’s lakeside home in New Hampshire, aides said, and during debates this year when Mr. Pawlenty often traveled with the Romney campaign after dropping out of the race himself.
He has emerged as one of the most energetic cheerleaders and forceful defenders of Mr. Romney, firing back against Republican skeptics and Democratic critics alike. All but forgotten are the days when Mr. Pawlenty coined the troublemaking term “Obamneycare,” suggesting that few differences existed between the health care plans of Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama.
My husband followed Pawlenty back in 2008 when the Minnesota governor was campaigning for John McCain. And he also interviewed him at that time.
His own view is that Pawlenty was a great retail campaigner, had a nice personal touch, is much warmer than Romney, and is smart and insightful on the policy front. (I hope Mark's not referring to his "health taxes" on cigarettes and the like.) He did, as the Times points out, win a 44-day transit strike back in 2004 over compensation and retirement benefits.
He's the originator of the term "Sam's Club Republican" to describe working-class Republicans, a group he loves to target. He is the real deal when it comes to a blue-collar background and I do think some voters care about that.
I don't really have a say in this, given my own ambivalence about the top-line candidate, but I don't think Pawlenty is a bad choice.
My mom thinks he and Portman are low on the excitement scale. But I think he's a slow burn and if they announce he's the choice early, it could serve them well.
What do you think?