The Hotline On Call, the National Journal's political blog, released the "winners and losers" of the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference and MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn't fare well.
The blog said the "Tea Party movement," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and The Bush Administration were all winners at the conference.
They said the CPAC Straw Poll (where TX Congressman Ron Paul won by a wide margin), the GOP in general and Pawlenty all fared poorly. Here's what the blog wrote about Pawlenty:
MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty: TPaw finished next to last, just ahead of Crist, in the '09 CPAC straw poll, and he finished 4th, with just 6%, this year. Students greeted Pawlenty when he showed up on Thursday, but his Friday speech didn't excite the crowd as much as Romney's, ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich's or even Rep. Mike Pence's did. The knock on Pawlenty has always been that he doesn't light a fire in many activists, and this year's speech showed he hasn't gotten over that drawback yet.
Read the full post here.
TP needed to hit a home run to capture the support of this particular crowd. He didn't hit a home run, he just showed up.
This particular crowd (CPAC) represent the most active and in some cases the most powerful conservatives in America. If Pawlenty had wowed them, he would have been "May champion"--a front runner really early in the season.
But he didn't impress hearts and minds at CPAC. He finished with 6% in a strawpoll of these conservative activists, as reported in Polinaut. That me seem strange, because Pawlenty really is one of them at heart. He is a conservative (in the sense that he will cut funding that helps working people, transfer the tax burden from the wealthy to the woking families, etc.) He has terrific credibiity with the national evangelical right, though you'd never know that from reading MN political reporting.
He's been a governor (actually run something.) In the wake of his CPAC speech, the Washington Post and the LA Times and other big papers dedicated feature articles to Pawlenty--not the winner of the CPAC poll, Ron Paul. That's the major media trying to "puff Pawlenty," in preference to figures who are actually far more popular with CPAC attendees.
So why is TP being ignored? Well, his personal affect is boring and bureaucratic. His record as MN governor sucks, his conservative tenure has left the state with a tax debt of $6 billion. (That doesn't bother conservative business types, so long as their personal taxes don't go up. But leaving the state in an economic hole doesn't help TP with conservative rank and file, and these CPACplayers know that.)
Another reasons TP is ignored by the most powerful conservatives: he does the cynical thing and condones extreme views in the name of careerism--but he doesn't express enthusiasm for them and doesn't currently have a reputation associated with them. And extreme views and conspiracy theories are now fashionable (rather than marginal) in the GOP.
This is why John Birch Society darling Ron Paul kicked TP's a** in the straw poll. We must give Pawlenty time to teach national conservatives that he is "behind" the extremists in the party in the same way that Ron Paul is. Either that or he may sneak onto a White House ticket as "the comparative voice of moderation" (which would be funny, because he isn't: TP actively despises people who aren't wealthy, who work paycheck to paycheck, it's all over his public policy.)
In either case, TP's failure to impress at CPAC does not end his pathetic dream of--someday--becoming a real presidential contender.
I think the CPAC poll itself was the biggest loser last night. Didn't George Allen win this thing a few years ago?