Scott Gillespie: Who's this Pawlenty guy?

 

Add Esquire magazine to the growing list of media outlets that have discovered Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. A Q&A with the governor, headlined "The Dark Horse,'' appears in the magazine's March edition. It's a journalistically soft take, with few surprises and mostly softball questions, including: "Where do your politics come from?''

Writer Mark Warren describes the governor in glowing terms, never mentioning the state's budget controversies. "He's led a liberal state with success, is unspoiled by scandal or prior defeat, and has a sunny disposition.''

What's most striking about the piece is the presumption that Esquire's readers will know so little about the two-term Minnesota governor, who came within a field-dressed moose of the GOP vice-presidential nomination in 2008. If that's the case, Pawlenty has a great opportunity to define himself, but he must also overcome a low national profile. Exposure like this can only help.

Consider the introduction: "Soon someone other than Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney will step forward to speak for the Republican Party. And it just might be the engaging governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, whom most people expect to run for president in 2012. So we asked him: Who are you? And what do you believe?''

Here are a few highlights from the piece, which can be found on Esquire's website:

On the wisdom of government bailouts: "These markets have to correct. And the answer can't be for every problem that emerges as a result of reckless behavior, the government's gonna come in and bail everybody out. I was talkin' to people this morning who run small businesses. Where's their bailout?''

On Minnesota's political traditions: "Most of the Republicans who have succeeded here have been mostly very moderate, Democrat lite. I'm somewhat an exception to that. I'm more of a mainstream conservative governing in a liberal state''

On whether President Obama is a socialist: "I think President Obama is governing as a movement liberal. I don't think that rises to the level of being a socialist.''

On why he would run: "I think the country's in trouble. And I think I have a pretty clear sense of the values and principles that have made this country great.''

SCOTT GILLESPIE

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