Newspaper article

Minnesota Conservatives Offer Faint Praise for Pawlenty as Romney VP

Newspaper article

Minnesota Conservatives Offer Faint Praise for Pawlenty as Romney VP

Article excerpt

Anti-tax warrior Grover Norquist may deem Tim Pawlenty conservative enough to be Mitt Romney's running mate, but several Minnesota conservative activists respectfully -- and disrespectfully -- disagree.

"If @TimPawleny is selected as VP it will only show that @MittRomney has entirely written off the base," Minnesota Republican consultant Andy Parrish wrote Monday on Twitter.

"Dear @mittromney if you have picked @timpawlenty as your running mate, I beg of you, if you want to win, reconsider. Not a real conservative," tweeted conservative blogger Andy Aplikowski.

Monday's New York Times article, which quoted Norquist and cast Pawlenty's vice presidential promise in a rosy glow, unleashed a flurry of protest on Twitter. Most of it came from non-Minnesotans who summed up Pawlenty as generic, boring and unknown.

His critics here, though, offer more precise disparagement focused on Pawlenty's two terms as governor.

"He raised taxes, supported cap and trade, and where was the striking social reform -- what did he do for the social conservatives?" wonders Parrish, former chief of staff for Michele Bachmann. "I don't see what he's done."

Aplikowski believes Pawlenty did plenty -- for the other side. "There was a surplus; he spent it," he said. "He supported both the Hiawatha and Central Corridor light rail projects," instead of focusing on highways and maintenance. "The whole 35W bridge collapse was handled badly, although the collapse was not his fault"

John Gilmore, a St. Paul activist, said it's not only that Pawlenty isn't the answer but that he also spurs more questions. "Pawlenty would raise concerns among the conservative portion of the base that believes Romney isn't as conservative as he said he is," said Gilmore. "He raises the RINO [Republican in Name Only] possibility."

All three view Pawlenty's own presidential aspirations as a liability.

Aplikowski said the goal of the White House made Pawlenty a "triangulator" during his last two years in the governor's office. For Gilmore, it was the kind of campaign Pawlenty ran. "This is someone who quit after the straw poll," he said. "His poor campaign confirmed that he lacked national gravitas. …

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