Tim Pawlenty’s biggest problem as a presidential candidate is that he’s boring. He’s not uncharismatic; he doesn’t come off like a jerk the way Rick Santorum does or a nut like Ron Paul does, and he’s a pretty likable guy from watching him on TV. But he appears as a guy next door rather than the JFK-Reagan larger-than-life personage we’re used to.
People are attracted to the George Patton type rather than the Omar Bradley. Pawlenty is an Omar Bradley.
But his campaign video, which he put out this morning as a preview to his announcement that he’s running for president, is terrific. Omar Bradley, par excellence.
People are calling Pawlenty a major candidate, largely based on Beltway media navel-gazing rather than any movement he’s getting in the polls. Whether he is one or not remains to be seen. Pawlenty probably gains from Huckabee and Mitch Daniels being out of the race, though it’s tough to see how he’s going to lock down a base of support when Michelle Bachmann is also running for president from the same state.
Pawlenty’s message as expressed in the video, though, is a good one. Too much debt, too crappy an economy and too many B.S. speeches by a president who can’t lead, and Pawlenty offers himself as a clear alternative. That works, and it also oh-so-subtly contrasts him with Mitt Romney – people think Romney is insincere the way Obama is. Pawlenty’s statement that he moved a Democrat state in a conservative direction is a terrific shot at Romney as well.
UPDATE: Pawlenty doubles down with an op-ed in USA TODAY. An excerpt…
The president’s policies simply aren’t working. And more than that, he won’t even tell us the truth about the problems we’re facing and what it’s really going to take to get America back on the right track.
As a candidate for president, it would be easy for me to just tell the American people we can solve our debt crisis and fix our economy without making any tough choices. But we have now seen where that type of leadership gets us.
Leadership isn’t about fancy speeches and empty promises. It’s not about telling people just what they want to hear. It’s about telling the truth. Like too many Washington politicians, President Obama governs with an eye toward the next election, at the expense of the next generation. He would rather pretend there is no crisis and attack those who are willing to stand up and try to solve it rather than risk doing anything about it himself.
In Washington, they call that “smart politics.” But I’m not from Washington.