Pawlenty Announces Bid to Be Mitt Romney's Vice President

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 12 2011 8:19 AM

Pawlenty Announces Bid to Be Mitt Romney's Vice President

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The former governor of Minnesota endorses the former governor of Massachusetts, sending out an e-mail ("He's not only a family man, he is a man of principle") and making news in his Fox and Friends hit.

Asked how he could endorse a candidate who he once mocked as the author of "Obamneycare," Pawlenty said he'd spoken about health care with Romney and concluded: "Mitt Romney is 100 percent dedicated and committed to repealing Obamacare" ... "Gov. Romney wants to fix Social Security. He doesn’t want to abolish it or end it," Pawlenty said. "Gov. Perry has said in the past that he thought it was 'failed.'"
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Yes, he says he's ruling out a VP slot, but his reasoning doesn't make sense. He's been down that road? No, he hasn't! He's only been vetted, by some of the people who will likely end up vetting the 2012 VP choice. In his first three seconds as a Romney surrogate, he's on message attacking Perry.

The endorsement announcement came together quickly. On August 14, Pawlenty dropped out of the race. On September 2, Pawlenty and his wife flew to New Hampshire and stayed overnight with the Romneys, getting the endorsement pitch. A few days later, as Pawlenty was doing a well-received media tour, the decision was made.

Why do this now? Didn't the 2008 Dems gain considerably from waiting and waiting to endorse Obama, getting big roll-out events as they went? Yes and no. John Edwards initially offered his endorsement in exchange for a place on a candidate's ticket, but kept lowering his demands as time went on, and eventually -- pre-revelation of scandal* -- Edwards got nothing. The early endorser, who doesn't court media attention for his Hamlet Act, looks loyal. He looks like a possible running mate. So Pawlenty stays somewhat relevant, "Obamneycare" means less than ever, and Romney gets... a bounce? Do we actually think that? Pawlenty left the race as the anti-Romney-who-couldn't-pull-it-off. The TPaw voters I talked to in Iowa and New Hampshire didn't sound like they were as faithful to him as faithful to the idea of beating Romney.

*As opposed to "pre-scandal." Had the Obama campaign been reading the National Enquirer, would Edwards have been courted so hard?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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