If you want to see why former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) must rely on movie-trailer theatrics to capture his party’s attention, nevermind its nomination for president, just open up the dead-tree editions or look at the Web sites of The Post and The New York Times. With two well-placed interviews, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour walked right into Pawlenty’s spotlight.
Pawlenty took a concrete step to officially joining the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination by announcing an exploratory committee. Yet, he only earned A2 in the print edition of The Post and didn’t even make the homepage of the Web site today. I take that back. There was a one line headline — below a bigger headline for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), which asks, “Could Barbour break the mold?”
Even though Barbour “barely registers in the polls, even among Republicans,” as Karen Tumulty notes, just his consideration of considering a run for the presidential nomination earns greater attention. Tumulty’s story is on the front page, albeit below the fold. And it is the lead story on the PostPolitics site and the politics site of the NYT. In the paper edition of the NYT, Barbour eats up most of the National front page and jumps to another page. Poor Pawlenty is relegated to the off-lede on the National front page — no jump.
It’s kind of understandable, Pawlenty’s second-fiddle status. Barbour is a giant in the GOP. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee has been active in party politics for so long that his connections have spread like Kudzu throughout the party establishment. Barbour is not without his problems, and chief among them is a blind spot the size of the Confederate flag when it comes to race.
To my mind, that should help make Pawlenty a viable alternative. But as the picture above demonstrates, and today’s stories make evident, Pawlenty is a small figure in the corner hoping someone will notice.