Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the presidential race in 2011 before even the first Republican primary, but the former Minnesota governor could still have a good chance of holding office.
Insiders inside Mitt Romney’s campaign have said Pawlenty jumped to the top of the list of vice presidential candidates, POLITICO reported. He is seen as the most effective and personable candidate on the list, impressing the Romney officials with his onstage presence at Republican events and easygoing style, the report said. This connection to wider audiences would also counter what is seen as one of Romney’s main weaknesses—too many see him as stiff and unable to connect with the average working man. He’s already been serving as a top surrogate for Romney throughout the Republican’s campaign.
“Pawlenty will walk up and put a supporter in a headlock,” a Republican consultant told POLITICO. “He provides a nice yin and yang to Romney.”
The Romney campaign has been more public about its VP search in recent days, announcing that it was vetting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the Washington Post reported. Though Rubio is a favorite of many Republican insiders, Pawlenty is seen as a strong possibility because he is an evangelical Christian who could connect to the conservative voters that the Mormon Romney can’t, but is not so strong about his faith to scare off more secular voters.
One area Pawlenty wouldn’t offer much help—his home state. MinnPost reported that outside polling shows Obama maintaining a strong lead in the traditionally liberal state, and Pawlenty’s presence on the ticket would do little to change that.