After last night's debate, it seems pretty clear that Tim Pawlenty's candidacy is done for, barring some sort of miracle at Ames. Prior to the debate he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, after the debate he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin AND angry after his failed verbal samurai charge at Bachmann. That's very unfortunate as I think he would be a great President given his stellar record of achievement in the very blue state of Minnesota. He also seems to me to be a genuinely decent individual. So I was wondering this morning, how would things have been different this time around if McCain had actually chosen him as his VP instead of Sarah Palin. McCain did hint that he was in the running for the #2 spot, and from what I heard at the time, McCain only decided against him in the last minute. I think having the VP nomination would have helped Pawlenty in a number of ways:
1. He would have instant name recognition around the country and people would also be very familiar with his stellar record as Governor. Right now, most people, at least outside us political addicts, don't really know who he is or whether his record was good or bad. Given that he received an "A" in the Cato Fiscal Policy Report Card, which is extremely difficult to get (they don't believe in curves over there) it's actually quite a shame that his record has received almost no notice in the press or anywhere else for that matter. That would not have been the case in 2008 when every inch of his record would have been sifted through by people on both sides of the aisle, allowing him to be the Conservative alternative to Romney this time around.
2. It would have allowed him to make the mistakes he made early in the 2012 campaign back in 2008. Just as Palin seems much more confident now than she did back then, I think Tim Pawlenty would as well.
3. The GOP has historically liked to nominate the next in line from the last election. Since Palin isn't running in 2012, that became Romney who was the #2 contender vs. McCain in the primaries in 2008. If Pawlenty had been the VP nominee, he would be next in line and would therefore have the inside track for the nomination.
4. The Palin nomination really greased the skids for Bachmann's candidacy this time around. Not to take anything away from Michelle Bachmann, as she is very impressive in her own right, but I think she would not have catapulted as high if Palin were not nominated the last time around. There are a good number of people who fell in love with her at the GOP convention after she gave that wonderful speech and stayed in love with her. When it seemed that she wasn't running, I think a lot of people naturally gravitated to Bachmann who was a more politically experienced and forceful version of her (I'm not trying to be sexist here, I just think that's just how people thought). Not having as strong a Bachmann would have made Pawlenty's road to victory in Iowa that much easier.
Anyway, as we know, timing and luck can everything in politics and so the best candidate for President often doesn't win the nomination. Otherwise, I think we would have had a President Phil Gramm or a President Jack Kemp (or President Hillary Rodham Clinton) at this point.