lunes, 16 de julio de 2012

Sencillo, sin adornos y evangélico

The New York Times le dedica un pequeño perfil a Tim Pawlenty:
It was four years ago this summer, when Tim Pawlenty ranked high on the list of John McCain’s potential running mates, and Mr. Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, were plowing through a voluminous questionnaire probing deep into their finances and almost every other aspect of their lives.

“I remember the two of us joking one night at some inhumane hour, ‘No way is Mitt Romney doing this by himself!’ ” Mr. Pawlenty later wrote in his book. “We had a good laugh over that.”

After a short-lived presidential bid of his own last year, Mr. Pawlenty is again being considered for the Republican ticket. His fate is in the hands of Mr. Romney, a rival-turned-friend, who is on the cusp of announcing his vice-presidential selection. Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week.

The country received only an abbreviated introduction to Mr. Pawlenty, 51, a former two-term governor of Minnesota, whose working-class roots, experience outside Washington and evangelical faith have formed the core of his appeal to a broad spectrum of Republicans.

While Mr. Romney has kept more distance from the rest of his primary challengers, he has embraced Mr. Pawlenty, seeking his advice about running against President Obama and sending him to Republican events on his behalf. They began forging a closer relationship last year on a visit to the Romney family’s lakeside home in New Hampshire, aides said, and during debates this year when Mr. Pawlenty often traveled with the Romney campaign after dropping out of the race himself.

(...) The conservative National Review now describes Mr. Pawlenty as “Romney’s traveling salesman.” While other potential vice-presidential candidates like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have day jobs that limit their availability, Mr. Pawlenty, who has no other full-time position, is the political equivalent of an empty nester, available to do whatever Mr. Romney asks.

(...) In 2008, as Mr. McCain was narrowing in on a running mate, several aides recommended Mr. Pawlenty. Others pushed for a bolder choice, a candidate who would create more enthusiasm among Republican activists.

Four years later, being passed over for Sarah Palin may work in Mr. Pawlenty’s favor. “In a lot of ways, he’s the anti-Palin,” said Steve Schmidt, a strategist to Mr. McCain who expressed regret for her selection. “Here’s a guy who is prepared to be president on Day 1. In any normal year, he would have been the pick.”

But some of the same perceived shortcomings of Mr. Pawlenty still exist among his detractors, including the critique that he lacks a fiery presence and the ability to excite a crowd.

Associates of Mr. Romney say he believes Mr. Pawlenty has gotten a bad rap, and the comfort level between the men outweighs any concerns of a potential ticket being seen as dull.

A year ago, as the Republican presidential field was emerging, aides to Mr. Obama kept close tabs on Mr. Pawlenty and his plain-spoken message as a so-called Sam’s Club Republican. They spoke privately about how his blue-collar upbringing in South Saint Paul, Minn., in the shadows of stockyards, could be compelling to voters with the economy on their minds.

Now, as the president and his re-election campaign are relentlessly hammering away at Mr. Romney’s wealth and business background, some admirers of Mr. Pawlenty believe that he could help ease the criticism that the Republican ticket does not appeal to working-class voters.

“An appealing counterbalance to Romney being a son of a wealthy man and going to elite schools is Pawlenty being the son of a truck driver who went to the University of Minnesota,” said Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman who began helping Mr. Romney’s campaign after Mr. Pawlenty left the race. “He’s not elite in any sense of the word.”

(...) Grover G. Norquist, who leads the group Americans for Tax Reform, said the full scope of Mr. Pawlenty’s record was strong, despite the tax increase. He pointed to his leadership on a 44-day transit strike in 2004, where he won a fight over compensation and retirement benefits.

“He was a little Scott Walker before Scott Walker,” Mr. Norquist said, referring to the Wisconsin governor hailed among conservatives for surviving a recall election last month after cutting collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

While Mr. Pawlenty left the Republican primary long before voters weighed in, he won an early poll of evangelical Christian leaders, a constituency Mr. Romney has had difficulty winning over. His longtime pastor, Leith Anderson, who is also president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said Mr. Pawlenty’s faith could help the Republican ticket.

“Tim Pawlenty is an evangelical, and evangelicals like other evangelicals,” Mr. Anderson said.