My Interview With Governor Tim Pawlenty

At the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, I had the pleasure of meeting hometown hero and favorite son Governor Tim Pawlenty.

In addition to being a popular Governor and rising star in the party, Governor Pawlenty was a finalist to be Vice President under John McCain. In fact, I confess to guaranteeing that he would be the pick.

My rationale was simple. He is tall, has good hair, and is inoffensive. He is the epitome of a “safe, do no harm” choice. I suspect he will be on various republican short lists for some time to come.

I initially met him in South Florida at a Republican Jewish Coalition event honoring Vice President Dick Cheney. Governor Pawlenty was a rock star at this event. The elderly Jewish ladies kept coming up to him and fawning over him as if he were Joe Lieberman. They insisted on showing the Governor pictures of their daughters and granddaughters in the hopes of fixing them up with him. He politely and genially insisted that he was happily married and not Jewish, but the women did not care. He was simply that telegenic. At age 47, the man looks like John Cusack.

At the convention, I ran into him at the very end of the third night. I did a rapid fire interview with him before his aides whisked him away. Given that he was the Governor of the host city, he was under more pressure than most politicians, making sure everything went like clockwork. It did, and he shined.

Below is my interview with Governor Tim Pawlenty.

1) What are the most important issues of 2008?

TP: “The economy and National Security. Both of those are vitally important and require a strong leader who is prepared.”

2) Who are your 3 favorite political heroes?

TP: “Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Teddy Roosevelt.”

3) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Tim Pawlenty the person?

TP: “I would like to be remembered as a good person who shared his commitment to public service with the people of Minnesota.”

4) How did Sarah Palin do in her speech to the convention?

TP: “She did a fantastic job. She introduced herself to America in a powerful way.”

Time was short, but if I had more time, I would have asked him about the 24 hours following the Minnesota bridge collapse. While it was not 9/11 or Katrina, it was a tragedy nonetheless. His steady and compassionate leadership in the wake of the bridge collapse was what public service should be about.

One other thing about Tim Pawlenty is that while he is a very competent executive, he is also very likable. One can be pleasant and still get the job done. When he talks about “Sam’s Club Republicans,” he means it. He is a blue collar guy at heart. He truly does like people. He once got a reporter ina¬† playful headlock and gave the man a “noogie.” Until recently, he had a “mullet.”

Once he became a top tier contender for Vice President, he had to tone that part of his personality down.

The last thing I said to Governor Pawlenty was, “Governor, I lost money on you. I bet on you.”

He laughed, gave me a hearty handshake, and let me know that he appreciated the support, even if it did not put him over the top.

The people of Minnesota are lucky. They have a great Governor. I wish the very best for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.


16 Responses to “My Interview With Governor Tim Pawlenty”

  1. Micky 2 says:

    I swear if I still lived in LA I would be trying to hook up with you as your photo journalist.
    Or at least trying to make it to the same functions with you.
    Is there such a thing as a political groupie ?

  2. Micky 2 says:

    I would also be selling McCain/Palin gear down on Venice beach just to watch the reactions.

  3. God, I am so sick of this Ronald Reagan thing. What? Do they plant some kind of chip in your heads or something?

    Pawlenty has a great opportunity over the next years to become the heir to the republican throne. National and state minority party status combined with his executive position gives him plenty of latitiude to take popular positions and rail against the status quo, without actually having to do much of anything. He’s bright, and though his education creds may be a little too local for the national scene I dont think that matters for much. He rode along on the wild ride with Jesse Ventura, picking up on shared issues while avoiding controversy.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Pawlenty run for president four, eight or even 12 or 16 years from now. Lord knows he’s young and has plenty of time.


  4. thepoliticaltipster says:

    When I looked at the potential Veep candidates I didn’t think much of Tim Pawlentry, viewing him as a ‘safey first’ candidate. I also thought that Pawlentry’s chances of becoming the number two on the ticket were badly overrated by the betting markets (though I ruled Palin out of hand before she was nominated).

    However, if Gov Pawlentry – rather than Palin – were McCain’s running mate – McCain would be ahead in the polls by now. McCain could have talked a lot more about Iraq and he could still have used the experience argument when it was most needed. We also wouldn’t have had the very public airing of the various Palin scandals (though the media has let Palin off very easily) *sigh*

    On the other hand, McCain still has a chance. It’s not that much of a chance (about 30%) but it’s more than the betting markets are giving him. Obama is getting complacent and the tax attack, as Democratic pollsters like Stan Greenberg admit, is an effective attack. Provided Palin manages to step out of the limelight after her SNL experience and we see more of the Al Smith McCain (and less of the “palling around with terrorist” malarky), McCain might yet pull it off. A narrative of McCain as a tragic figure brought down by weakness and second guessing is also forming (which could stir up a sympathy vote.

    My ‘median’ scenario would be an Obama victory by 7-9% but at this moment in time McCain has made the right decision to focus on the swing states, rather than wasting time in Indiana and North Carolina. Which would only go to Obama long after states such as Ohio, Florida and Colorado.

  5. thepoliticaltipster says:

    Also, if Obama wins I predict that Tom Ridge rather than Pawlentry will have more chances. Ridge has got the National security credentials, he’s moderate and comes from a more winnable swing state. I believe that there will be a massive backlash against Palin and what she stands for (though there could also be a civil war that produces a centrist third party).

  6. thepoliticaltipster says:

    I meant to that the Republican party could split with the centrists (and moderate Democrats) supporting a third party candidate.

  7. Micky 2 says:

    I am not taking his name in vain, I swear to God I told myself when reading this that Jersey was gonna snap when he saw Reagan being mentioned as a hero again.

    Look , we get it.
    Why would you respect the mans choice of heros when I honestly would expect no less out of some one who sees Jimmy Carter as
    “One of the most decent men to ever be in the white house” ?

  8. Yeah, but Micky, I never said Carter was a good president. Let’s face it, his presidency was a failure. The point I’m making about Reagan is – C’MON! GET REAL! REAGAN??? He’s just not that big of a deal. I’m telling you now – in a hundred years, he’ll be forgotten. Whether or not you liked him, he’s just not that important of a figure in modern history. Republicans had better wake up to that reality or they’re gonna be in the minority again for another long, long time to come.


  9. Micky 2 says:

    I doubt it.
    They’ve already named so many institutions after him he will definitely go down in history. Libraraies, hospitals, airports, etc…
    Minority has never been as big a problem as republicans have won more elections since the 2nd or 3rd elections.
    Reagan set a standard for conservatism that many of us strive to maintain in tradition.
    Every president has a ratio of failure to accomplishment. Much of it is determined by perspective derived of ones values.
    Thats why when anyone says that any presidency is an abject and complete failure I get crosseyed at hearing such absolute stupidity.

    But when you look at succesful completion of attempted iniatives you can say that some succeeded in their intentions more than others.
    Reagan accomplished a lot of what he set out to do, whether you think they were worthy accomplisments or not is another story.

  10. Just because a bunch of republicans renamed everything under the sun “Ronald Reagan,” doesn’t mean Reagan will be much more than a foot note – or worse. I went to a “Hoover” school once, ya’ know, and it wasn’t named after the fashionably late J. Edgar.

    I think a lot of those things named “Reagan” will change their names over time. It’s not like much of anything anything new was named after him. I mean, you have to make something new if you want something new to be named for you. Reagan never made all that much. The GOP just renamed things that were named after Democrats. Never say Republicans aren’t a happily spiteful little bunch.

    So, I figure the Democrats will eventually just return the favor. If they really want to be extra spiteful, they’ll rename all the things that were renamed “Reagan” to “Hillary Clinton.” That’ll really twist the GOP’s gizzard.

    I’m just trying to figure out what exactly Reagan did. I mean, I know he was president for eight years, and that a lot of people loved him, and a lot of people hated him. But people are stupid. They’ll love or hate anything if someone tells them to. What did Reagan do?

    No, I think historians will look back at the Reagan era as the beginning of the end of the American Empire – when the empire began to eat itself alive. he won’t be remembered very fondly. Once his adorers pass, as the years go by, there’ll be no one left to need to be fond of him anymore. No one to admit they were wrong. At that point, Reagan will be remember for what he really was – A Nero fiddling on top of his burning city on a hill.


  11. Micky 2 says:

    Yea, now your back to telling me the future.
    I have to get me one of those crystal balls. If I had one I wouldnt need the ones I’ve got.

    Jeez, you accuse people of fear mongering ?
    Do you hear yourself ?

    Anyway, I’ve decided from now on that when people tell me with definition what the future holds or that they know things only God and myself could know, the conversation is over.

  12. All empires eventually fall, Micky. That’s just the way it always has been and always will be.

    And God only knows what you know. He’s just a figment of your imagination.


  13. Micky 2 says:

    Are you sure hes a figment of my imagination ?
    Or maybe its your imagination that has lead you to believe this ?

    I believe at one time you were positive without even knowing me that you had gone to bed with more women than me.
    I would rather believe in an all powerful creator than some doctored up convoluted up image of myself that is able to change out nothing expedient purpose that avoid holding to some decent ethics and morals.

    This empire has stood the test of time with less changes to its core principal than most.
    What that has to do with the legacy of Reagan that I believe will stand is more beyond you than it is myself obviously.
    Whether or not America fails is not relevant to Reagan being rememberd in history.

    You cannot say with absolute certainty what will happen as its painfully evident that the time and place simply has not occured yet.
    No more than you can guarantee me that there is no God.

    I have seen evidence of a higher power in my past only because I was willing to put myself aside for long enough to see it.
    I still cannot tell myself what the future holds for myself or you anymore than you can.
    You on the other hand have an incredible ego that gives you the impression that you can actually forecast the future. Anyone who holds themselves in such ridiculous esteeem is never going to see past it and is destined to be proved wrong in many situations almost always.
    This is confirmed and reflected in your constant insistance that your opinion is a guarantee of actuallity and fact.
    We all need something to look up to, when we make that something ourselves we become morally challenged to the point that we are nothing more than dogs chasing our tails in search of higher purpose. And if you ever do catch your tail the closest you’ve come to anything was an a$$hole.

  14. Micky, it doens’t matter what you think about about God or whether he’s just in your head or not. If you want God, then keep him. He’s not mine to take. I’ve never seen any evidence of “Higher Power.” I don’t need magical things to “look up to.” I look up to tangible things – the wonder of nature, the universe, of ideas and the people that make them come to life. That’s why I find God interesting. because he was an idea that people made that really stuck in the heads of so very many of other people. But I certainly don’t agree with the idea. I mean, lot’s of ideas are popular, but that doesn’t mean I have to like or agree with them. I don’t care about the popularity of ideas – just whether they’re good ideas or not. But hey, whatever floats your boat. You want God? Keep him. He’s all yours. You can chase that tail (or is it tale?) all you like.

    “This empire” is a relatively new one itself, but based on an old European model. A Old Empire in a New World. Just over 500 or so years ago, Europeans didn’t even know the place existed. Then they found it. Then they took it all for themselves. Then they became permanent residents. This New World was founded by Old Empires. Those empires fell, and new empires emerged.

    But ALL empires fall eventually. The social-political-economic model that is “empire” must fall eventually. Failure is built into the model. The model has a life expectancy. And about 200 years has always been the longevity. Our empire was finally, violently birthed roughly 140 years ago. So, I figure were on the tail end, with a couple generations or so to go before its finally just broken-down for good. Then we’ll have to start over. Then it will be other people’s turns to be empires. Maybe the Indians and the Chinese. They haven’t been top dogs in a while.

    Eh. Let ’em have it. Empire is a fools game.


  15. Micky 2 says:

    So far you’re wrong.

    Your impression of yourself is magical enough I guess.

    I am not the one surrounded by misery and visions of failure along with the self loathing the left is famous for.

    Life is good since I lost that mindset. And since then my life has also improved dramatically. I am prosperous and happy.
    That is not something I see as prevalent force on the left.

    There are limitiations to every experiment.
    The model we are based on has been improved over and over to the point that we come closer to perfecting it each time.
    If you look at the cycles of rulership in America we keep returning to a capitalistic republic form for longer periods of time each time after we discover that democratic but limited socialistic implementation does not work. Which is simply why republicans have won more elections in the past and the ratios get higher as we progress in time. Obama (IMO) will be a one term president if elected. Only until we see failure will we choose not to reapeat the mistake that caused it. Unfortunatly most of those voting for him have no idea of the downward nature of socialism. As right now everyone is so upset they just want something for nothing
    Socialism will always be a temptation. I believet the day is coming very soon when a majority of the people in the world will live in free societies or societies rapidly moving towards freedom as opposed to this cycle that claim is inevitable

    And capitalism will play a huge role in the global revival of liberty and prosperity because it feeds the human spirit, inspires creativity, and promotes enterprise. By providing incentives that promote accountability, hard work and efficiency capitalism creates wealth.

    The main difference between capitalism and socialism is this:
    Capitalism works.

  16. Eagle 6 says:

    “chase your tail (or is it tale?)” was a good one… and the Hoover School thing…I’d rather think it sucked out people’s brains so they could make a racket and blow dust around…

    Reagan did precisely what a President is supposed to do: make people feel good about things. His strengths were knowing his capabilities and limitations…and he surrounded himself with great people. He didn’t micro-manage – he let people do their jobs. That’s one of the reasons the Divinity of Ovinity is so popular – he makes people feel good about themselves…and I suppose the differences are 1) the people who surround him…and 2) he doesn’t know his capabilities or limitations because he hasn’t done anything… if hung around with a chimp, he would be vilified…and his ears are too big to portray Knute Rockne…

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