Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on the Palin effect.
HH: Governor, obviously a lot of us thought you’d make a good Vice President. You’re not on the ticket, I know you said that you’re happy being Governor. What do you make of the person who is, Sarah Palin?
TP: I think it’s terrific. I think it excites and energizes the base, and it also opens the door to other groups that may not be automatically Republicans. Obviously, she’s got so many interesting life experiences and perspectives. You know, for example, Hugh, she’s an outdoors person, so that opens the door to discussions with hunters and anglers. She’s the parent of a disabled child, so she can speak to the disabled, disability community with credibility. She is somebody who’s got a son being deployed, so she can connect with military families and members of the military, and on down the list. I think it’s a terrific pick. I think she’s going to be a terrific Vice President.
HH: Have you gotten to know her very well in the course of the Governor’s associations in the two years that she’s been chief executive of Alaska?
TP: I have. You know, she’s newer to the Governor’s association, so she’s only been there the last couple of years. But I’ve gotten to know her a little bit and her family, and I just think very highly of her. I think it was a bold pick for Senator McCain that’s paid dividends, obviously, and I think Senator Obama is going to rue the day that he didn’t more seriously consider Hillary Clinton. And Senator McCain had the courage and the boldness to do something a little unexpected, and Senator Obama took the safe route, which is a reflection, I think, of what appeared the safe route, which is a reflection of the two styles of these candidates.
HH: Now Democrats today are trying to turn the page with the assistance of their friends at the New York Times and elsewhere, and say oh, look, it’s all about the economy now, and Republicans are responsible for the financial crisis, look the other way, we didn’t do anything on drilling, but pay no attention. Do you think it’s going to work?
TP: I don’t, and I think if you look at the way the public’s responding to it, they understand this is complicated and involves a lot more than just any one party or the other. But what they for sure understand is this, Hugh. Barack Obama’s approach to raising taxes, inflating government spending, kind of a do nothing or minimalist approach on energy, kicking entrepreneurs and small businesses in the shins with more regulation, more taxes, having the government take over the health care system, I think most Americans kind of understand that that is not the way, the formula to get this economy going again. Senator McCain takes the right approach on those issues, and I think that’s going to shine through.
HH: Now Governor Pawlenty, in terms of, you mentioned the outdoors people, that brings us back to Minnesota. Ever since the Palin nomination, have you had any poll indications that Minnesota is in play for McCain-Palin?
TP: We have, Hugh. There’s been several polls, including a Star-Tribune poll, which is normally quite unfavorable or biased against Republicans showing the race precisely tied, 45% for Obama, 45% for McCain. That was about a week ago. And then just recently, an American Research Group poll that came out showing the race tied, or I think a one point difference, and a Survey USA poll showing the race within the margin of error. So this is, in Minnesota, an extremely close race, and Senator McCain is hanging in there. The poll in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune concluded that the Palin selection at least so far is a bit of a wash in Minnesota, but I think as more people get to know her and understand her better, particularly things, you mentioned the outdoors would be an example. In Northern Minnesota, there’s a ton of snowmobilers, people love to hunt and fish, and they’re looking for a candidate who understands their passion, they pastime, and she does that. So I think as she campaigns more, she’s going to get more support in those areas and more.
HH: Do you expect her to be in Minnesota? Is the campaign going to come through Minnesota between now and the election?
TP: Well, they were here for the convention, and they were just here last Friday, Hugh. So just less than three days ago, three, four days ago, they were here, and they’ve committed to come back more. So I think you’re going to see a lot of our candidates in Minnesota, because if you look at that electoral map, if you assume Senator McCain can keep Ohio, and I think he can, you’ve got to pick up one of those Midwestern states or Colorado to make the electoral map work. So Minnesota, I think, and maybe Wisconsin will, and perhaps Iowa will be in play.