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Right Turn
Posted at 04:05 PM ET, 07/11/2011

Tim Pawlenty’s error

Tim Pawlenty’s campaign seems quite pleased with its candidate’s performance on “Fox and Friends” this morning, when he repeated his jibes about the “nonexistent” record of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

But is this really the smartest ploy? Reader and blogger John Wohlstetter writes in: “How could any GOP House member pass legislation of any consequence with Speaker Nancy running a Tsarist dictatorship?”

And frankly, since January, the Democratic Senate and the White House haven’t exactly been raring to cooperate with conservatives. She has, however, moved to repeal Obamacare, voted against the bailouts and done as much as any conservative to speak out against the Obama agenda. By going down this road, Pawlenty risks highlighting the very feature of Bachmann’s career ( principled opposition to the liberal big-government agenda) that is her hallmark and the quality that Tea Partyers most admire.

Maybe Pawlenty really means Bachmann is too controversial or “too radical” to be the nominee. But he can’t say that without suggesting she’s “too conservative,” and hence enraging the base that already suspects he’s not tough enough. So instead, in perfect campaign-speak, he says she doesn’t have the “experience” to be president. Sounds like Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Better that Pawlenty should explain why his ideas are better than his opponents’ or why he’s going to be able to win over Democrats. It is not as if he doesn’t have compelling arguments on this front. My colleague Marc Thiessen lays out a compelling case, for example, on Pawlenty’s foreign policy views. (“When it comes to national security, Pawlenty isn’t Minnesota nice — he’s a Minnesota hawk.”)

However, sniping at her for doing what the base loves best (fighting Obama tooth and nail) isn’t going to cut it.

By  |  04:05 PM ET, 07/11/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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