Always the Bridesmaid: What’s Next for Tim Pawlenty?

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Republican presidential candidate and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks to voters at the Des Moines Register's Soapbox during the second day of the Iowa State Fair August 12, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Four years ago this month, Tim Pawlenty was walking his little black dog Mazy down an Eagan, Minn., cul-de-sac. John McCain had just called to break the news that he had picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. In his autobiography, Courage to Stand, Pawlenty recalled the disappointment he felt in that moment: “As I put the little bag over my hand and bent down to pick up her poop, I thought to myself, Well, this is the only number two I’ll be picking up today.”

So it was déjà vu on Aug. 6, when Mitt Romney called to tell Pawlenty that he wasn’t selecting the former Minnesota governor as his running mate. That Romney informed Pawlenty four days before the rest of his shortlist may reflect Romney’s appreciation for an able and tireless surrogate. And yet, Pawlenty has now endured the harsh scrutiny of the vice-presidential vetting process twice—and wound up the bridesmaid both times. Unlike the rest of Romney’s shortlist, he doesn’t have a plum political job to fall back on.

Where does Pawlenty go from here? As a key surrogate, he seems a possible fit for a Cabinet position if Romney wins in November. “If Romney were to win, I’m sure that they would seek out Pawlenty’s skills in any number of ways,” says Charlie Weaver, Pawlenty’s former chief of staff and friend of 25 years, who touts Pawlenty for a cabinet post in trade or education.

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The two men have a warm relationship that began shortly after Pawlenty dropped out of the 2012 presidential race in the wake of a poor finish in the Iowa straw poll. At Romney’s invitation, Pawlenty and his wife Mary visited the Romneys at their New Hampshire lake house. “They just got along great on a personal level. They’re very similar in a lot of ways,” says a former aide. “I think that’s how they’ve become good friends in the last couple months.”

Even if Romney loses, Pawlenty’s boosters see a bright future. There has been some talk of Pawlenty potentially running against Minnesota Senator Al Franken in 2014. If he has soured on politics, there’s always the private sector. Pawlenty sits on seven corporate boards, from a Pennsylvania sand-mining business to an Atlanta supply-chain company. In addition to his place in the private sector, Weaver sees an opportunity to do political commentary on the side, serving on panels for Sunday morning talk shows.

“He could do that kind of thing to keep his toe in the water on public policy, but still earn a living in the private sector,” Weaver says. “But I think at his core he’s a public servant. That’s just who he is.” Which was apparent in his dedicated support of Romney, for whom he’s spent months on planes and in rental cars and cable-TV studios.   “Give him a plane ticket and he goes,” says Eric Woolson, Pawlenty’s former Iowa communications director. “He’s a very humble and modest person in the sense that here’s a rental car, go. He’ll drive himself. He’s probably the lowest maintenance surrogate that you could possibly find.”

Pawlenty’s friends and former aides say he did the work to support his party. But University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs thinks Pawlenty may be eyeing a cabinet post in the Romney administration. “It’s a lot of time and work that he’s putting in,” Jacobs says. “There’s no doubt that the guy is working hard for some payback later.”

Even after being passed over once again, Pawlenty is still playing the part of the loyal soldier. “I am excited about a Romney-Ryan ticket and look forward to doing all I can to help them win this election,” he said in a statement after the pick was announced. On the day the new Republican ticket debuted on a Virginia battleship, Pawlenty was some 600 miles north, doing his part for his party–by addressing a small group of young Republicans in New Hampshire.

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ahandout
ahandout

28 comments and not one Republican.  This site is not biased, not at all.

As for the article.  Pawlenty should go to Hollywood and join the rest of the RHINOS.   He can get a part for the Expendables III.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Sure "bridesmaid" fits the description?

Pawlenty seems more like the "cheap and easy" girl the dudes with no morals or class propose to and give a "glass" ring, all with the express purpose of getting her in the sack.... and never quite get around to setting the wedding date... as long as she's "cheap and easy" and willing to accommodate.

Guess they've found out what type of "girl" you are, Tim... anything that follows is just "price negotiation" or "avoiding setting a date".... because you don't seem to be the type the GOP wants to take home to meet the parents.

booch221
booch221

TPaw is a loser. 

There is no future as VP or POTUS for this nasty little twerp, and that's ALL he really wants.

Dan5404
Dan5404

A bigger question is what will Romney and Ryan do when their current job applications are rejected by the American pople?

sacredh
sacredh

Ryan is keeping his day job.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Yeah, a resounding vote of "self-confidence", that move...

Of course, he just may want to insure he keeps that "socialist"  insurance plan the Reps in Congress have "forced" on them...

Giving one for the team, I guess...

Dan5404
Dan5404

Yeah, I should have clarified. I meant that in a different way: as political actions, not fall-back jobs.

ERenger
ERenger

The second time he found out he had been passed over, was he also picking up poop? 

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

And could we, perhaps, stop referring to people who don't get picked for something as "bridesmaids"?  Sheesh.  Aside from the ungraciousness of it, married women have been bridesmaids for at least 50 years.

Perhaps you could refer to them as Old Maids, or Spinsters.  

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thanks for pointing that out!

How about Confirmed Batchelors, since we are having a little blast from the past?

sacredh
sacredh

Confirmed Bachelor always made me think of extremes. Either the guy could get any woman he wanted so he played the field, or else he took his mom to the prom because every girl he asked passed.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Who is this Paw-whatsisface guy and why should I care?

filmnoia
filmnoia

The answer to the article's question is - "Who cares"?

TIME would be better served delving into the GOP voter suppression in Ohio, Florida and PA. What the hell are you people waiting for?

Tero1
Tero1

Awww T-paw. The GOP punching bag. Not defending his "Obamneycare" statement exposed him as a spineless wimp.

ERenger
ERenger

Awwww, T-Paw. GOP wallflower. 

ERenger
ERenger

Awwww, T-paw. GOP doormat.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

What's next?  Selling himself out to whatever candidate is on the 2016 Republican ticket.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

Poor Tim Pawlenty.  He sold his soul for... nothing.

booch221
booch221

Yes, licking Romney's boots got him nowhere. 

Maybe if Mittens wins he could be Secretary of HUD or something equally unimportant.

sacredh
sacredh

He was still overpaid.

MrObvious
MrObvious

If he has soured on politics, there’s always the private sector. Pawlenty sits on seven corporate boards, from a Pennsylvania sand-mining business to an Atlanta supply-chain company.

This sentence highlights what's wrong with our corporate and political world today.

cent_fan
cent_fan

He's an inside lobbist.  He has a "client" list.  He simply rings doorbells on Capitol Hill, bills the hours in the hopes of winning the Salesman of the Year pen and pencil set seven times, and sets up several golden parachutes.

destor23
destor23

 Thank you.  This is absolutely right.  A board is supposed to protect the interests of shareholders and to oversee management.  It's not supposed to e a cushy gig for the politically connected. And seven boards is way too many for somebody who takes the responsibilities seriously.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I own a number of individual securities and I always vote my proxy. I check how many other boards the nominee sits on and vote no on anyone who sits on more than three corporate boards including the company in question. Read that some time ago from The Conference Board and it seemed like a good yardstick to me. Sometimes that means I vote against the woman or the minority and my feeling is that there are more than two qualified in the country and they need to find more talent.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Thought Pawlenty was a bit FingerInTheWind about his positions during the primary, but in his favor, he was able to look around and assess his chances better than some of his colleagues who maintained fantastical scenarios to see themselves winning the nomination.

Secretary of Education in a Mitt Romney administration?  Now there's an appealing job.  "Tim, I'd like you to be at the helm of our dismantling of the public's financial support of American education."

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Wow Kathy :) I'm guessing Tpaw isn't your favorite GOPer.

Honestly, i don't know that much about him - but i liked your last line.

The line fits the entire GOP though, to be honest. They're all nuts.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 Actually, he is my favorite of the pile of Republican contenders for the nomination.  Doesn't say much, I realize.  Did you see any of his Captain America intro videos at the beginning of his campaign?  They were a stretch.  Looked like something Colbert would have put together, and I seem to remember Colbert parodied them for himself.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 If he'd had tried harder, i'm sure Colbert coulda got the nomination though.