Today’s rumour is that the presidential campaign of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will soon undergo a “staff shake-up.” rumours of “staff shake-ups” follow troubled presidential campaigns as night follows day. Pawlenty’s campaign has had more than its share of troubles. So perhaps the rumour is true.
It doesn’t really matter.
Pawlenty’s campaign has entered an endgame: beat Michele Bachmann in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll or be done. If he fails to outpoll (or come very close to) Bachmann in Ames, Iowa on August 13th, his money will dry up, his campaign organisation will have to downsize, the press will find others to follow and he’ll be almost entirely dependent on televised debates to press his case.
Successful presidential campaigns require a lot more than showing up for televised debates. So beat Bachmann it must be.
Pawlenty has been trying to knock her out of the race for months. A month ago, one of his supporters who also served (briefly) as Michele Bachmann’s chief of staff wrote a letter to The Des Moines Register saying that Rep. Bachmann was unfit to serve as president of the United States. The letter did nothing to slow Bachmann’s momentum in Iowa.
Last week, The Daily Caller published an article quoting former “close aides” who said that Rep. Bachmann suffered from “stress-induced,” “incapacitating” migraine headaches that on a few occasions required emergency hospitalization. Heavy pill usage by Bachmann was also alleged, just for good measure. The story got wide play, but again, didn’t seem to slow down Bachmann in Iowa.
In the midst of all this, Pawlenty himself went on the attack, saying that Bachmann lacked the executive skill-set required to be an effective president and that her legislative accomplishments were “non-existent.” Bachmann struck back, hard, with a statement saying that Pawlenty was a flip-flopping, Obama-loving, liberal Republican. Or words to that effect.
That, in a nutshell, is the story of the Pawlenty campaign. It was supposed to be the Republican Big Tent, the candidacy that could draw support from every faction of the GOP. Instead, it has become a candidacy desperately trying to take down a Minnesota Congresswoman by dumping reams of opposition research about her on a news-starved national political press corps. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t working.
Can the Pawlenty campaign be set right? Probably not. The best they can hope for is a “strong showing” in the Iowa Straw Poll that enables them to live to fight another day. Which is why the Pawlenty campaign is pouring virtually all of its remaining funds into mobilizing a big turnout for the Straw Poll. But a “strong showing” has to be, in fact, strong. If Bachmann beats him by any kind of margin, he’s done.
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