“Hope is not a plan” – Tim Pawlenty
Word is out today that Tim Pawlenty has stepped out of the presidential race after a lackluster finish in the Iowa straw poll. I have a few thoughts.
First, Tim Pawlenty bowed out of the race when he backed down from Mitt Romney in the “Obomneycare” moment. Romney was the progenitor of state-run health care in Massachusetts – Romneycare. The program has apparently been disastrous. It is absurd, rabidly absurd, to think that the Republicans (who rely on conservative support) would nominate someone who ran his own state-level Obamacare program – especially when Obamacare was such a political lightening rod for the rise of conservatism and the Tea Party. Mitt Romney has nowhere to go but down and is currently the “I don’t like any of these guys” vote. That will change.
Pawlenty was the first to challenge Romney oppenly and pointedly by calling his program “Obomneycare.” It was a rhetorical masterstroke and threatened to propel Pawlenty to the front of the race. (By my math, he had already done well in the first South Carolina debate, looking by far the most presidential.) Then, when pressed on the issue in a debate, he waffled and backed down. Good bye. That ended your chances.
With that Pawlenty became a wimp, a non-fighter. The caucus was ready to jump on board and he flaked out. In an attempt to boost his bonafides, he decided to go on the offensive in an Iowa debate. Did he take the attack to Romney? No, that ship had sailed. Instead, he attacked … Michelle Bachmann? Dumb. Hillary Clinton may appear rough and battle hardened, but Michelle Bachmann is still a sympathetic character. Pawlenty just looked like a jerk.
Beyond that, Bachmann is a Tea Party darling. The Tea Party is a fickle lot, fully willing to vote for nobody instead of a non-conservative. They also take it personal when you attack their own. Pawlenty all but assured that he stood no chance in the nomination or the general election with that attack. It was just dumb.
(Slightly unrelated, I’d just like to add that I don’t like the nomination process, where Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have inordinate importance. That’s just offensive.)
At the same time, Rick Perry has announced his candidacy. I don’t know much about him. The buzz is that he’s the man to beat now. (Seriously, do you think a non-Tea-Party-endorsed candidate can win this thing? Despite the Republican propensity for nominating moderates like McCain, Dole, and George H.W. Bush – the grass roots conservative rebellion has shifted the terrain.)