Pawlenty gets encouragement, gives few clues on VPby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Amid speculation that he's under serious consideration to be John McCain's running mate, Gov. Tim Pawlenty spent the day at the Minnesota State Fair. Although Pawlenty won't comment on his prospects of being added to the ticket, he's leaving the state this weekend to campaign for McCain in two critical swing states.
Falcon Heights, Minn. — Gov. Pawlenty stuck to his familiar talking points on being John McCain's running mate. It didn't matter if the questions came from reporters who followed his every move or from a fairgoer from Mankato who declined to give her name.
"So, are you going to be on the ticket this fall?" she asked.
"I just don't talk about it because these guys will go back and write all kinds of crazy speculation," he said.
Wherever Pawlenty went, he was forced to field questions on the possibility of being McCain's running mate.
He thanked those who said they were pulling for him and sidestepped questions from those who wanted to know if he was the pick. He was forced to answer the questions even during his radio show.
"I'm not going to ask you about being vice-president, but do you think you're going to be president?" a listener named Adrian from Excelsior asked.
"I'm going to answer that question right now," Pawlenty said. "I'm going to be president, but I think it's going to be something like president of the Eagan Rotary Club or something."
Some fairgoers said they hope McCain picks Pawlenty. Ken and Deanna Kern of Andover said he would make a good vice-president.
"He's kind of feisty. I like that," said Ken. "He has that attitude where he's not afraid to say what's on his mind. He's real positive and I think he's a good conservative too."
"I like his conservatism and he's always stood strong for values I believe in," Deanna said. "He's against abortion. I like that very much and that says a lot about person I think."
There's a reason that so many people are wondering whether Pawlenty could be the pick. He co-chairs John McCain's presidential committee. He's traveled to more than a half dozen states to campaign for the Arizona senator, and the New York Times and the Associated Press are both reporting he's under serious consideration for the slot.
Pawlenty also ramped up his media appearances over the past week. He was on CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday, CNN's Larry King on Monday and appeared on both CNN and Fox News this morning.
On CNN, Pawlenty was forced to defend McCain's statement that he didn't know how many homes he and his wife own. Pawlenty tried to turn the tables on Democrat Barack Obama.
"Barack Obama has gotten in trouble in the polls and now he's getting desperate," he said. "You have a situation where Barack Obama made over $4 million last year, has his own $1 million home in Chicago that involved some dealing with a pretty shady character. And now you have him saying he's more in touch with the common person than John McCain? Gimme a break."
Pawlenty is also scheduled to hit the road this weekend for McCain. He's headed to the critical swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, which only adds to the speculation that Pawlenty could be named to the ticket when McCain makes the expected announcement on Friday.
In an interview with MPR, Pawlenty said no one should read too much into his trips to other states.
"I don't think it should say anything one way or another," he said. "The McCain campaign has used surrogate speakers, me and a bunch of others to go out and give speeches in places where Sen. McCain can't be or do TV or radio interviews that he can't do and so it's just a continuation of that volunteer role for his campaign."
Pawlenty is also scheduled to head to Denver next week to offer a Republican response to the Democratic National Convention.
Those looking to read the VP tea leaves can also take note that Pawlenty told his weekly radio show audience at the State Fair that he'll return to the same spot next Friday. That's the same time that McCain is expected to announce his running mate in Ohio.
- All Things Considered, 08/22/2008, 5:19 p.m.