Pawlenty’s departure leaves a bigger hole than polls suggest

If you believe, as I do, that Republicans need to nominate a presidential candidate with executive experience if they’re to defeat the incumbent Barack Obama, then Tim Pawlenty’s withdrawal from the race this weekend is a real loss.

For whatever reason, Pawlenty couldn’t turn that experience into success on the campaign trail. He’s been described as “boring,” but at the same time managed to draw plenty of attention for his scraps with primary opponents Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Boring people don’t find themselves in the spotlight for such reasons (though it must be noted that Pawlenty rarely was viewed as coming out of those scraps for the better).

Similarly, Pawlenty was described as the “generic Republican” when, as recently as last month, such a blank slate had an 8-percentage-point lead on Obama in Gallup’s poll (this month, Obama posted a still-shaky 45 percent to 39 percent lead over the “generic Republican”). That’s in part because he ticked a lot of boxes on the checklist. But great resumes don’t always make great candidates, and Pawlenty is another example of that.

A continued campaign by Pawlenty might have helped raise the games of those candidates who will carry on. But his departure after a third-place finish in a straw poll with very little predictive power, combined with his persistently disappointing poll and fund-raising numbers, shows the loss didn’t end his justification for staying on so much as he desperately needed a win, even a superficial one, to give him such a justification.

What’s disconcerting is that Pawlenty’s departure leaves just three ex-governors in the GOP running: Mitt Romney (Massachusetts), Jon Huntsman (Utah) and the newest arrival, Rick Perry (Texas). That would seem to be plenty — except that Huntsman’s campaign is going nowhere, Romney has plateaued while voters seem intent on finding a Plan B, and Perry is too fresh on the scene for anyone to judge how he’s going to hold up as a national candidate.

Going into this campaign, there was a much longer list of potential candidates with significant gubernatorial experience: the aforementioned four plus Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Jeb Bush of Florida, Mitch Daniels of Indiana Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Gary Johnson of New Mexico (just 26 months ago, before his affair with an Argentinian woman was revealed, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford would have made that list as well). Then there are hot-shot first-termers Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. All declined to run except for Johnson (who, rumors have it, is actually still a candidate).

Whether you like or dislike particular names on that list, that’s a lot of executive experience sitting on the sidelines ahead of a pivotal election.

Romney, Perry and Bachmann — in that order — appear for now to be the possible nominees. Bachmann very soon will have to demonstrate she brings to the table something other than a history of saying “no” to things like Obamacare that pretty much everyone on the right disliked (Pawlenty showed the other candidates the way here, even if he couldn’t quite finish the job).

Only Romney and Perry could inspire real fear in the Obama re-election headquarters. Either of them might well prove to be a winner, but one would have hoped for something more than a de facto two-man race in mid-August 2011.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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54 comments Add your comment

Ayn Rant

August 15th, 2011
5:43 am

“Executive” experience may not be desirable; wisdom, intelligence and leadership ability definitely are. Being the chief executive “guv’nor” of one of the comical state governments doesn’t demonstrate leadership ability, just politics, Being an overpaid, underperforming Big Business executive doesn’t demonstrate leadership ability, just politics and greed.

Joel Edge

August 15th, 2011
6:06 am

“Only Romney and Perry could inspire real fear in the Obama re-election headquarters.”
Seriously? Alfred E. Neuman could be the Republican nominee and have a 50/50 shot at it.

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

August 15th, 2011
6:27 am

If you had watched Pawlenty on “Meet the Press” you would know why he failed. There is only choice & that is Ron Paul, Perrt is another Bush, Romney is a RINO & Bachmann is crazy.

Howard

August 15th, 2011
6:31 am

Hey Kyle – rascist much?

Joel Edge

August 15th, 2011
6:34 am

Since the last comment I’ve now read two articles (not counting your’s) with the general theme ‘it has to be Romney or Perry’. No, it doesn’t have to be.

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

August 15th, 2011
6:38 am

If you had watched Pawlenty on “Meet the Press” you would know why he failed. There is only one choice & that is Ron Paul, Perry is another Bush, Romney is a RINO & Bachmann is crazy.

Purdoo

August 15th, 2011
6:44 am

Chalk another one up to Nick Ayers. Is he still drinking ?

long view

August 15th, 2011
6:45 am

The crazy is coming home to roost for the R’s.

DeborahinAthens

August 15th, 2011
6:46 am

Being a governor might indicate one’s ability to lead, however it doesn’t make you a good leader. One of George W. Bush’s greatest failings ( and there were many) was that he would decide to do something, and regardless of what his advisors told him to do, he would stay on his own misguided path. His First two Treasury Secretaries told him not to cut he tax rates because it would cause massive deficits (read O’Neil’s book). Colin Powell told him not to invade Iraq. Bush will most likely go down in history as the worst president after Carter, who was also a governor. Perry is a religious ideologue. Where will he “lead” us? Most likely back to the Dark Ages. I like Ron Paul best of the lovely bunch of coconuts the Republicans have on their plate. God help us all if “governor” Palin runs. She not only sucks all the oxygen out of the room but sucks the intelligence out as well.

Jefferson

August 15th, 2011
7:13 am

Still nobody worth a toot. Why can’t the GOP come up with a decent opponent?

jconservative

August 15th, 2011
7:15 am

Pawlenty brought to the campaign trail the excitement of watching grass grow. Ditto Huntsman.

Bachmann brings to the table the ability to engage 1/3 of the Republican base.

Perry will bring to the campaign the ability to turn off independent voters.

Romney has the ability to secure a huge majority of the independent vote but may not be able to get enough votes in the primaries to secure the nomination.

The Republican Party needs to return to the days of cigar smoking big shots in a smoke filled room picking the winning candidate at the convention. It worked for a hundred years but then they decided it was broke and fixed it.

The result is that the last four Republican presidents have turned out to be Liberals once they take the oath of office.

jt

August 15th, 2011
7:38 am

Obama,/Romney/Perry/Bachmann equals perpetual war,bigger prisons,bigger and more intrusive government, relentless class downgrades,worthless currency, and rotten-to-the-core statism.
.
Ron Paul equals peace, individual liberty, and greater wealth.
.
The choice is clear for all Decent people.

Texas Miracle, Baby!!!

August 15th, 2011
7:40 am

In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts.

By the way, one in four Texans lacks health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation, thanks largely to the state’s small-government approach. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has near-universal coverage thanks to health reform very similar to the “job-killing” Affordable Care Act.

JohnnyReb

August 15th, 2011
7:46 am

Perry, Bachmann, or Romney; either will do just fine to replace the second coming of “Jimmie.”

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
7:52 am

There are two reasons to elect a President in this era of weak executives; veto power and Supreme Court justices.

That’s pretty much it.

Sure, when bad times hit (as in now) we need someone to inspire and motivate us as a nation, but after that a President is really much more figurehead than executive. Their experience is needed to keep things from getting screwed up more than they are (as evidenced by the dismal performance of the current office holder), but it’s leadership qualities we need more than ever.

Tim Pawlenty was never going to fill those shoes. Neither are many on that dais last week. In fact, there are only three remaining that can.

Mitt Romney – quiet competency. Doesn’t get ruffled or flustered. Has the ability to turn up the heat, but doesn’t use it quite enough.

Rick Perry – bombastic overblown caricature of a Texas governor. Can certainly energize the party faithful. Unfortunately has the ability to drive moderates away with both substance of his beliefs and persona.

Herman Cain – fire breather on the stump. Has the ability to excite the crowd but lacks depth of knowledge in how Washington works. Can be both a plus and a minus in this environment.

The rest of the field is just an embarrassment.

Bachmann – playmate of the cycle.
Gingrich – surly poli-sci professor.
Santorum – Beaver Cleaver of the religious wackos.
Paul – crazy-uncle policy wonk.
Huntsman – vanilla with molasses in his mouth.

This is still Romney’s race to lose, even with Perry’s dive into the pool this weekend.

mrbill

August 15th, 2011
8:08 am

Palin / Bachman will fix everything real quick, jobs for al, no more taxes.l

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

August 15th, 2011
8:14 am

Why don’t you write about how mayor Reed & the Jackson family are rigging the bidding at the airport?

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morning_call/2011/08/airport-disagrees-with-ga-state-study.html

JohnnyReb

August 15th, 2011
8:14 am

Dave R. – I have to somewhat disagree with your 7:52. Too many people ignore that when they cast a vote for POTUS they are voting for the candidates ideology. The winning ideology will be imposed on the country either through legislation or fiat; whether it’s good or bad. The Obama presidency is, unfortunately for the nation, a perfect example of a man made POTUS whose ideology is so contrary to our roots it spawned a new political movement.

The airwaves are full of It’s the economy, it’s jobs, it’s the economy, it’s jobs! No, it’s a lot more than that.

carlosgvv

August 15th, 2011
8:22 am

The electorate, more and more, is favoring style over substance. This is what got us Obama and is why a candidate with real substance but little style, like Pawlenty, loses out while the shallow move forward. It goes without saying that this is a road to disaster and we are already well down that road.

JF McNamara

August 15th, 2011
8:39 am

Carlosgv,

It wasn’t style over substance that got Obama elected. He was a better candidate then McCain. What McCain has morphed into has shown that to be true. Given the choices, Obama was the best choice and has probably done a better job that McCain would have. Palin is the ultimate in style over substance.

If Republicans didn’t hate Mitt Romney, he’d probably be President right now.

jt

August 15th, 2011
8:42 am

@ 7:52…….”Ron Paul – crazy-uncle policy wonk.”
.
I would prefer the “crazy-uncle” analogy to represent the Federal government leader.Keep him locked in the attic,seldom seemed, and relatively harmless.Minimum amount of upkeep.
.
It would be better than the Obama/Romney/Perry/Bachmann Deranged step-mother/father analogy.
Who makes you do chores 24/7, pays you a stripend and then seizes half of this allowance to gamble with his neighborhood cronies, gets drunk, comes home and seizes the other half of your hard earned money to make war upon the same neighborhood cronies.
And then comes home and thrashes you for complaining.
.
And then thrashes you more when you complain about going to church on Sunday.And steals your last dime to put in the collection plate while lecturing you on “sharing”.
.
Give me the crazy ole uncle anyday.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 15th, 2011
8:43 am

““Executive” experience may not be desirable; wisdom, intelligence and leadership ability definitely are.”
———

You’re Idiot Messiah has none of the above.

I was driving around Chicago last week. It’s so much dirtier and depressed than the last time I was there fifteen years ago. Obozo didn’t leave much of a mark there.

Show Low Here We Come

August 15th, 2011
8:58 am

I think Dave R has hit the nail on the head – the president needs to be able to connect with, and inspire, all Americans. That was Reagan’s gift; Clinton managed it. Even W – I was never prouder to be an American than when he stood on the rubble of the World Trade Center with the bullhorn. That was great stuff, and arguably his finest moment. No one, at least ni my lifetime, had a better grasp of the legislative process than LBJ; how’d that work out? NIxon was a brilliant man and master politician; but he couldn’t connect. And the current guy just has no clue. And this could turn out to be Romney’s fatal flaw; he doesn’t inspire. Maybe, between now and the primaries, he’ll learn how.

MrLiberty

August 15th, 2011
9:00 am

What big hole? There are so many status quo, big government, big warfare, anti liberty, anti freedom, pro federal reserve candidates still left in the field that Pawlenty will hardly be missed. Experience as a failure is no experience at all. There is only one candidate who has shown with his consistent voting record and consistent stands on the issues that he has what it takes to deliver sound solutions to america’s problems and that person is Ron Paul.

A growing number of democrats are switching their party registrations in order to be able to vote for Ron in their primaries. If there is anyone who will be a uniter (on all the RIGHT issues for a change), it will be Ron Paul – and that is obviously why the republican leadership is so afraid of him.

Ron Paul 2012. End the Fed.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 15th, 2011
9:18 am

The Idiot Messiah’s “leadership” philosophy, and I quote: “Elections have consequences. I won”.

jt

August 15th, 2011
9:28 am

I can feel the knee-shake quakes in Dunwoody from here———-

From a good person, no righty chicken-hawk progressive NOR lefty no principled warmonger progressive………..listen to Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, .
.
Of course, many who fell for Obama’s program in 2008 are also disgusted, and they now see that most politicians and presidents say whatever they think we wish to hear, only to conform with an inherited status quo, and willingly compromise, sit, roll and beg.

But there is another reason for the noticeable government and mainstream media silence on Ron Paul’s repeated success, and his ever-growing popularity. Ron Paul can win, and if he achieved the GOP nomination he would be our next president. Ron Paul can cut short what will otherwise be an eight-year term of Obama, and end what has been a frantic 12 year federal spending spree that will ultimately lead to serious default, renegotiation and writing down of major categories of debt, and an inflation-ravaged entitlement collapse at home. Gold, guns and survival skills, private security forces, underground food networks, and an explosion in decentralized alternate energies – along with a collapse of governing structures, services, and public schools in many rural or otherwise under populated areas – all this is coming. Leaders who understand how this future was constructed, leaders who engender trust and confidence, and leaders who can wisely and quickly oversee the federal retrenchment that must and will occur – such leaders are few and far between.

Ron Paul is such a leader. We see the field – it contains the sadly overwhelmed Obama, as arrogant, as fascist-friendly and as warlike as FDR, and all the strident Keynesians clawing to the microphone, calling themselves Republicans, and Ron Paul. Of all the men or women we could choose to gently deliver this country through its very difficult rebirth into a new constitutionalism, a new liberty, and a new era of prosperity – Ron Paul is the people’s choice.”
.
Do ya’ll ever get tired of rolling and begging from your federal overlords?

carlosgvv

August 15th, 2011
9:55 am

JF McNamara

The fact that Obama was a better candidate than McCain does nothing to invalidate my style over substance argument. Since neither Obama or McCain showed much substance, Obama’s style won him the Presidency.

Junior Samples

August 15th, 2011
10:06 am

Show Low Here We Come,

Yeah, I was mighty impressed when President W flew over the Gulf after Katrina.

Junior Samples

August 15th, 2011
10:08 am

Don’t worry. Sarah Palin will swoop in to save the day right after Mr. Bachman is exposed. She’ll make everything ‘right’.

Moderate Line

August 15th, 2011
10:24 am

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
7:52 am
++++
Your assement seems spot on. If there is a canidate the Democrats fear it is Romney. If the economy tanks or remain stagnant then the Democrats will rely on painting the Republican canidate as extreme. Most of the canidates the Republicans have running are easy targets to label extremist. Perry has not been vetted enough to know whether he could be but Romney would be hard to paint as an extremist.

With all that being said if the economy tanks then the Republicans almost nominate anybody and win. However, that is exactly the scenerio for the Democrats in 2008 and now look what is happening to the Democrat majority.

JF McNamara

August 15th, 2011
11:02 am

CarlosGvv,

Both McCain and Obama have substance. The problem is that Americans are too shallow to actually listen to it so making the hard choices we need to make now comes down yelling loudly on TV and the radio.

It won’t matter how much substance the next President has, Red or Blue. They’ll turn out like Obama at best and W at worse, because there is no magic fairly dust to solve our problems. Just hard choices and cut backs, and that doesn’t get you (or your party) either popular or re-elected.

ragnar danneskjold

August 15th, 2011
11:09 am

Good morning all. We would all agree that Tim Pawlenty has a great record, and that he would have been a substantial upgrade over the current community organizer in chief. We also recognize you don’t bring Minnesota Nice to a Chicago goon fight, so his campaign was doomed by his decency.

From a conservative perspective, we do not care whether Team Obama is quaking at the prospect of any particular candidate. We remember well that Jimmy Carter’s team – at this same point in the election cycle – was hoping to face the extremist Reagan in the 1980 campaign, and memory suggests he got his wish. The Carter perspective was totally reasonable – Reagan was an amiable dunce, a former Hollywood pretty-boy whose sole credential was that he had a confrontational term as governor. For our younger readers, Reagan was the “Sarah Palin” of the 1970s.

Ideology matters. John McCain proved that even with a good resume one cannot beat an empty suit without measurable core beliefs. I would favor any conservative candidate who wears his/her beliefs on his sleeve.

Paul Krugman saves us all!!!

August 15th, 2011
11:12 am

“If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months,” he said. “And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better–”

Linda

August 15th, 2011
11:15 am

ragnar, …especially sleeves fastened with French cuff links?

jconservative

August 15th, 2011
11:33 am

JF McNamara
“If Republicans didn’t hate Mitt Romney, he’d probably be President right now.”

This is a solid point. Obama did not so much win but McCain looked so silly after the bank collapses in Sept 2008. McCain came out of his convention with all the momentum and a slight lead in the polls and watched it evaporate after 9/15/2008.

Had Romney been the nominee………..well, we will never know.

Jefferson

August 15th, 2011
11:56 am

Look up GOP in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Bachman – she is everything that is today’s “R”’s with a cherry on top !!!

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
1:00 pm

208 didn’t matter if the GOP had Romney, McCain, or Ronald Reagan on the ballot. This country was tired of 8 years of GOP rule, and the media was going to see to it that a Republican wasn’t elected no matter if Hope & Downgrade ™ or Hillary was on the other side of the ballot.

And based on the previous 8 years, the GOP deserved that loss.

Linda

August 15th, 2011
1:08 pm

Better a cherry than a question mark. Uncertainty is killing the economy.

Halftrack

August 15th, 2011
1:12 pm

Kyle; Would you apply these same parameters to the current President. Any of the GOP candidates beats Obummer on credentials to lead. Besides that we now have approx. 3 yrs of O J T by Obummer to compare against as we now know what he has done or not done.

Jefferson

August 15th, 2011
1:17 pm

The oil companies are robbing the economic recovery, high fuel prices hurt small business tons more than marginal tax rates.

saywhat?

August 15th, 2011
1:36 pm

Anybody who uses the phrase “executive experience” when describing criteria needed to run for President reveals themselves as a right wing sheep, too easily and unwittingly influenced by the propaganda machine of the Republican party. Other tell-tale words/phrases include “teleprompter”, “socialism”, “flag pin” (remember that one?), “hates America” etc.

David

August 15th, 2011
1:42 pm

I’m going to vote for Obama even though I don’t really like most of his decisions. I’m voting for him just to piss off republicans and so called conservatives. They are so mean and hateful and want to take from the poor to give to the rich, and seeing as how I’m not rich I don’t see why I should vote for anyone from the richman’s party. Democrats may not make good decisions but at least they want to do the right thing. Republicans willfully and knowledgably stomp on the working man.

And just a note to all those who will surely flame me, all classes stand on top of the lower class, so when they sink, everyone sinks. So, what’s that sinking feeling? It’s your new lower station in life. Get comfortable and if you don’t like you can always move to Mexico.

Linda

August 15th, 2011
1:50 pm

The Obama adm. has lawlessly & fraudulently imposed bans on our use of our own energy through the Dept. of the Interior, the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management & the EPA, causing gas prices to skyrocket, exactly as promised.

Last week, an Obama-appointed judge, ruled against the Obama adm. by reinstating rules in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

http://www.newsroomamerica.com/story/159889/federal_judge_overturns_administration_rules_on_oil_drilling.html

ragnar danneskjold

August 15th, 2011
1:53 pm

Dear David @ 1:42, you describe well the difference between the parties. Conservatives believe rising tides lift all boats, and leftists believe a wrecking ball levels all.

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
1:54 pm

“Anybody who uses the phrase “executive experience” when describing criteria needed to run for President reveals themselves as a right wing sheep, too easily and unwittingly influenced by the propaganda machine of the Republican party.”

Anybody who thinks that executive experience is not a criteria for succeeding as President should not be allowed to vote, as they are deemed mentally incompetent.

ragnar danneskjold

August 15th, 2011
1:55 pm

Dear Linda @ 11:15, ha.

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
1:59 pm

“Democrats may not make good decisions but at least they want to do the right thing. ”

Democrats want to bankrupt this country? :)

I did not know that. . . .

Kyle Wingfield

August 15th, 2011
2:16 pm

saywhat @ 1:36: I’ve checked my Secret Decoder Pamphlet of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, and “executive experience” isn’t on there.

Those two words are just my way of saying “should have led something other than a march on city hall before going to the White House.”

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
2:36 pm

“Those two words are just my way of saying “should have led something other than a march on city hall before going to the White House.”

I don’t care who you are, that’s funny! :lol:

Dave R.

August 15th, 2011
3:59 pm

Blue, your point being, of course, that conservatives “hate”, while liberals don’t, right?

Nonsense.

And it is needed to be pointed out that Mr. Atw@ter died of advanced brain cancer, which affected his reasoning at the very end. Another point to note was the “sincerity” of his “confessions”. From Wiki:

“Ed Rollins, however, told in the documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atw@ter Story,[15] that “[Atw@ter] was telling this story about how a Living Bible was what was giving him faith and I said to Mary, ‘I really, sincerely hope that he found peace.’ She said, ‘Ed, when we were cleaning up his things afterwards, the Bible was still wrapped in the cellophane and had never been taken out of the package,’ which just told you everything there was. He was spinning right to the end.”