Tim Pawlenty Launches Campaign As The GOP Default Candidate

tim pawlenty

[credit provider=”Courtesy of CNN”]

Tim Pawlenty officially launched his presidential bid today at a town hall meeting in Iowa, hoping to capitalise on the exits of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.The former Minnesota Governor spent Monday hammering on the message he has tried to send to Iowa voters during his 13 other visits to the state since 2008: He is a truth-telling Midwesterner and fiscal conservative who can appeal to Republicans across the conservative spectrum.

We have scoured his speech (and his campaign teaser trailer, and his USA Today op-ed, and his morning talk show appearances) and can’t find a moment where he presents a compelling reason why someone should vote for him. Pawlenty’s campaign appears to rely on the idea that Republicans will choose Pawlenty by default, once they grow weary of the others.

At least one Republican isn’t buying Pawlenty’s message. Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican, stabbed Pawlenty in the front with a blog post today that questions the candidate’s fiscal record as governor.

Carlson points out that under Pawlenty’s watch, Minnesota property taxes rose $2.5 billion, more than the previous 16 years combined. He adds that Pawlenty relied on borrowing and other short-term budget fixes to close Minnesota’s persistent budget deficits, a spending strategy that ultimately resulted in Moody’s lowering the state’s bond rating.

“I come from the more traditional wing of the Republican Party and truly believe in fiscal discipline and that the office of the Presidency should go to our nation’s best and brightest and not its most ambitious,” Carlson writes.

Democrats also seized on Pawlenty’s lack of an overarching message Monday with video titled “Why?”

“Maybe Tim Pawlenty can’t articulate a coherent vision for the country because he doesn’t have one,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement to the Washington Post. “He may want to be all things to all people, but desperately trying to ingratiate himself with everyone, anyone, is not a substitute for strong presidential leadership.”