Tim Pawlenty Gets No Respect
Monday, December 21, 2009; 9:00 AM
In the run-up to the 2008 Republican convention in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on just about everybody's shortlist of potential VP candidates. It wasn't meant to be. But Pawlenty, a conservative from a rather Blue state, could emerge as a contender for challenging President Obama. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Howard Fineman. Excerpts:
FINEMAN: Governor, for our year-end issue, we wanted to interview intriguing people about the future, including the future of the Republican Party.
PAWLENTY: And they weren't available, so you came to see me!
FINEMAN:Yes, Sarah Palin was on book tour. What is it about her that is so fascinating?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think she is a political rock star. She got enormous attention and support from a big chunk of the country as the vice presidential candidate. And she has sustained that. In part, it's because she has tapped into a kind of base-level feeling about the role and scope of government. She speaks bluntly and plainly in ways people can understand.
FINEMAN: What is she saying about government?
PAWLENTY: Amongst other things, that it is too big and too bureaucratic and too burdensome.
FINEMAN: Well, you say the same thing.
PAWLENTY: Yes, but we live in a society in which being familiar, being well known, gives you a platform. She certainly has that. The Democrats have all kinds of characters who are interesting, bold, and dramatic. On our side, you guys are obsessed with Palin.
FINEMAN: Until literally hours before the convention, you were seen as the most likely pick to be Sen. John McCain's running mate. When did you realize you wouldn't be?
FINEMAN: Did McCain explain to you why he picked her?