Chris Cillizza reports that presidential contender Tim Pawlenty has hired the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association as his campaign manager.

Pawlenty has been courting Nick Ayers for months. I am told by those involved in the process that Ayers, who served alongside Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour at the RGA, was waiting for Barbour, the candidate with whom he is closest, to make up his mind on whether to run. Now that Ayers has accepted a spot with Pawlenty, the chances of a Barbour presidential race have plunged. It may also be that Barbour’s extremely rocky start, overshadowed by his views on race, persuaded Ayers not to join him.

In any event, Pawlenty has shown a willingness to hire the best talent available and go outside of his Minnesota team. Pawlenty may be far back in largely meaningless polls, but he is the candidate most capable of climbing to the top of the pack. He’s demonstrated message control and a nose for talent. Now, he will need to excite the base.