Hotdish Politics: Coats are for wimps, not for candidates

  • Updated: December 19, 2009 - 9:50 PM

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

"Cold?" a staffer asked him as Pawlenty walked a New Hampshire street.

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

But there may have been more than a Minnesota-toughened hide at work here.

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

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

But then there are the three words that haunt every hatless politician: William Henry Harrison.

The month-long presidency of Harrison is best remembered for his delivery of a nearly two-hour inaugural speech in the Washington winter in 1841, sans coat or hat. He died of pneumonia a month later.

Coatlessness worked out better for 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 state as a sign of their vitality -- especially in New Hampshire.

RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER

Police union offers Rybak a Christmas poem

A little something from the 900-member union to Minneapolis mayor and DFL gubernatorial candidate R.T. Rybak as Christmas nears: The cop-style version of the Night Before Christmas:

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house.

Not a creature was sleeping, not even the mouse.

With rooms full of stockings and gifts all galore,

Our house was target for bad guys and more.

This Christmas is different and lacks any cheer,

Glad tidings replaced by a blanket of fear.

When Rybak fires cops it's a big happy present,

For burglars and robbers and people unpleasant.

There's more in the radio ad that started airing last week, but the rhyme deteriorates a bit after that and slips into a more typical political ad, although it closes with this couplet:

Rybak's not thinking 'bout crime here at all,

For he plans a future with a house in St. Paul.

The mayor notes that violent crime in his city is down 39 percent over the past three years and that murders are at their lowest level in decades. He said the Minneapolis' Police Federation ad is "about politics, not policing."

Verbatim

"The federal government is running a Ponzi scheme, the Ponzi scheme on the Potomac. And it needs to come to an end."

-- Gov. Tim Pawlenty, also from his New Hampshire trip.

PATRICIA LOPEZ

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