Man, the Republican presidential field won’t give Mitt Romney anything. Under the theory that Tim Pawlenty is arguably the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president, I’ve been reading his new book, “Courage to Stand.” In it, Pawlenty repeatedly makes a strange claim: that as governor of Minnesota, he’s been a conservative running the most liberal state in the nation.
“I took the job of leading Minnesotans through one of the most trying and difficult periods of change the state has ever known. And guess what? We did pretty well in what is arguably the most liberal state in the nation,” he says in the forward. A few pages later, he admits that “I’m not sure I ever fully expected to win. Running on a truly conservative platform, promising not to raise taxes in the bluest of blue states?”
The bluest of blue states, I always thought, was Massachusetts, not Minnesota. The Republican able to make the argument that he could appeal to Democratic voters was Romney, its former governor. But in his book, Pawlenty repeatedly argues that he deserves credit for appealing to the most liberal electorate in America, too. So who’s right?
Evidence aside, this line of argument also presents a tension with the rest of Pawlenty’s book. It’s clear that he doesn’t really like liberals (“the current administration and Democrat-controlled Congress have led us further down the liberal, socialist road than at any time in the history of this country,” he laments). But it’s also clear that he really does like Minnesotans (“Let me tell you about Minnesota strength, and Minnesota people, and Minnesota resolve, and Minnesota commitment and service,” he says). Explaining how this great, wise, strong, service-oriented, deeply patriotic state could’ve become so committed to the liberal-socialist agenda is, however, left as an exercise for the reader.