It was about 11 degrees -- negative 10 with windchill --  in New Hampshire Thursday but Gov. Tim Pawlenty, foregoing the advice of mothers everywhere, went coatless, hatless and gloveless.

"Cold?" a staffer asks him as Pawlenty walks a New Hampshire street.

"No, it's just like home," Pawlenty said.

 

Pawlenty spokesman said the weather was no worry.

"Ten degrees really isn't that cold if you grow up on Minnesota ice rinks," said Alex Conant.

The coatlessness may have some political reasoning behind it, too.

"I guess each state in the union has its own test," for presidential candidates, said Univeristy of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala. "I think, in New Hampshire, the local test is about the weather."

Politicians want to look vigorous and full of energy and bunding up against the frost might counter that appearance, he said.

But skipping appropriate attire can have its problems.

"There’s a great downside to doing what Pawlenty did and I’d summarize it in three words," William Henry Harrison, said University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato.

Former president for a month, Harrison is best remembered for delivering a nearly two hour inaugural speech in the Washington winter in 1841 without wearing a coat or hat. He died of pneumonia a month later.

Coatlessness worked out better for President John F. Kennedy. In 1961, the young president gave his inaugural address, which included the famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country," without appropriate winter garb. Even today, tales of that moment speak of the youthful vigor of the young president's besuited stand against the frigid cold.

And ever since profiles of pols note their coatless states as a sign of their vitality -- especially in New Hampshire. 

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