Speculation about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's vice-presidential prospects got another boost on Thursday in the wake of published reports that he had been the guest of honor the night before at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser attended by Republican luminaries.
Initially reported on two political blogs, his presence at the event was confirmed by his campaign spokeswoman, Trisha Hamm.
One post, by the Atlantic Monthly's Mark Ambinder, characterized the event this way:
"About 200 Republican bold-faced names crowded into former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman's Georgetown townhouse last night for an event that one attendee said 'felt like the kick-off for Pawlenty for Vice President.'
Officially, the bill was a fundraiser for Pawlenty's gubernatorial reelection. As the Politico's Mike Allen notes, the Republican "government-in-exile" came together: former Minnesoat Rep. Vin Weber, former White House political director Sara Taylor and major McCain advisers/fundraisers Fred Malek and Wayne Berman. Senior congressional and White House staffers with Minnesota connections were also invited.
Hamm confirmed the names mentioned in the report and said Pawlenty's reelection campaign raised more than $40,000 from the event. She said he would not be available to comment on the fundraiser.
Ambinder also reported that one Pawlenty confidant said he "gets a kick out of the vice presidential talk. But I don't think he's lobbying for it."
Pawlenty has consistently deflected speculation about his vice-presidential prospects, saying he is concentrating on his current job.
BOB VON STERNBERG