Pawlenty isn't convinced Romney will win Minnesota
February 1, 2012 — 6:00pm
By Baird Helgeson
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday could not guarantee that GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney would win the Minnesota caucuses next week.
In a conference call hours before Romney's scheduled visit to Eagan, Pawlenty said the low turnout of the state's caucuses make predictions difficult.
"I think he will do well, but I certainly can't predict who will win," said Pawlenty, who became Romney's campaign co-chairman after dropping out of the presidential race after the Iowa caucuses.
The former Massachusetts governor is coming off a strong win in a bitterly contested Florida primary, clearly establishing himself as the front-runner. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are also vying for the GOP nomination.
Pawlenty said Gingrich has a long history visiting the state and Paul's grassroots supporters could give him a much stronger finish than his last-place poll numbers indicate.
In 2008, Romney crushed Sen. John McCain in the Minnesota caucuses 41 percent to 22 percent. McCain went on to win the nomination.
Gov. Mark Dayton, speaking to a mostly Republican audience at the annual Minnesota Business Partnership dinner, repeated his familiar attack on the House GOP, blaming them for a legislative impasse on transportation.
It takes a certain sort of magic for a presidential debate to shift a race, it seems, some weird alchemy combining ingredients like viewership and mistakes and perceptions and medium. It's almost never about policy.