Talking about President Obama on Monday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that “If the election were held today, he’d be beat.”
The question now is whether Republicans think Pawlenty is the guy to do it.
At this weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) in New Orleans, Pawlenty finished near the bottom in a presidential straw poll, garnering just 18 votes, ahead of Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, and Thaddeus McCotter.
The winner by a long-shot was long-shot candidate Ron Paul who, as he often does in these activist forums, easily outpaced the competition. He led with 612 votes. Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann finished third with 191 votes, following Jon Huntsman, who got 382.
Putative front-runner Mitt Romney only got 74 votes, so there’s clearly a yawning gap between the RLC straw poll and the more scientific national polls of Republican voters, where Pawlenty still only finishes in the single digits.
More troubling for Pawlenty could be the strong showing by Huntsman, who is supposed to have the same cross-over appeal for centrists and independents in a general election.
Other contest results: Herman Cain, 104, New Gingrich, 69, Sarah Palin, 41, Rick Santorum, 30.
With Romney and Pawlenty absent from the proceedings, it’s not certain how representative the RLC poll was.  Though Huntsman wasn’t there either.

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