Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s announcement Monday that he is closer to jumping into the presidential race has many groups taking a hard look at his candidacy.
One such group: evangelical Christians, a key voting bloc for Republicans.
“They don’t know a whole lot about him, which is actually a good sign,” said Doug Wead, who served as former President George H. W. Bush’s liaison to the evangelical community.
Wead said many people don’t understand born-again Christians, so they tend to view them with more skepticism than other faiths. He points to much of the criticism of Sarah Palin, another possible presidential candidate.
“To be associated with evangelicals, like Sarah Palin, is a negative for you,” Wead said Monday. “There’s a feeling that it’s going to get you.”
Pawlenty, who was raised Catholic but now attends an evangelical church, has so far avoided being labeled an evangelical candidate in the same way, Wead said.
Though Wead said he knows little about Pawlenty, Minnesota's former governor has positioned himself well to win over evangelical voters.
Pawlenty’s faith “is something evangelicals will find on their own," Wead said. "And it will be a surprise to them, a welcome one, and others won’t feel put off by that.”