That morning, he attended the Minnesota State Fair and did his weekly Minnesota radio show, during which he told listeners that he was not the vice presidential pick. Then, with McCain still a couple of hours away from anointing Palin, Pawlenty went to deliver a scheduled speech to a conservative conference of about 200 activists, a group with doubts about the depth of McCain’s conservatism. The spectators included Gary Marx, the executive director of the Georgia-based Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“He could have been wallowing over not having been picked,” Marx said. “Instead, he was a loyal soldier, praising McCain to a conservative audience that was pessimistic about the election and suspicious of McCain. I might not have done the event in his shoes, might have been crying my eyes out. I thought it showed a quality of character you don’t see a lot . . . because it had to hurt.”
But Pawlenty is nothing if not tenacious. His rise in Minnesota, which began as a college student when he volunteered at the campaign office of a Senate aspirant, was a function of his doggedness amid painful rebuffs from party chieftains.
Pawlenty’s career was impeded several times by the Republican establishment, rejections always premised on the belief that other politicians had greater name popularity, more magnetism, better financing and superior organizations. As the 2002 elections approached, Vice President Richard B. Cheney telephoned Pawlenty, then the Minnesota state House majority leader, to persuade him not to run for the Senate, so that Norm Coleman, the St. Paul mayor, could have a clear path to the seat. Pawlenty ran for governor instead and won, despite opposition from some prominent state Republicans.
“When he stepped aside for Norm Coleman, there were many people who felt he was too quickly succumbing to this outsider,” said Krinkie, who now is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. “But over time, Tim has come to be regarded as a loyalist, a team player.”
‘Maybe for once he gets lucky’
In contrast to his rivals, Pawlenty conducts himself nowadays like the most feverish of job applicants. While the others have largely tended to their day jobs in which they benefit from built-in news coverage and audiences, Pawlenty has headlined dinners and campaign fundraisers in venues big and small. He has ridden the campaign bus wherever and whenever Romney needs him, exhorted workers at small campaign offices and appeared on every TV show asked — he will be on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.