imageWith former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s disappointing finish in the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday and his decision to leave the race on Sunday it’s interesting to note who’s lining up to take credit.

Example #1 – Bob Vander Plaats while he stops short of taking credit, in an email to supporters he does link Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s performance to the signing of their pledge.  He writes:

An interesting note…the two big winners today, Bachmann and Santorum, both signed The FAMiLY LEADER’s Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY.  We are pleased to see that these two candidates had the courage to sign the pledge. 

While I said that Senator Santorum exceeded expectations and has lived to fight on another day, I wouldn’t quite classify him as a “big winner,” but he certainly has every reason to be pleased with the results.  I will say this.  The “Marriage Vow” had nothing to do with it.  Congressman Ron Paul placed 2nd and Pawlenty 3rd ahead of Santorum and they didn’t sign the “marriage vow.”  Santorum finished ahead of Herman Cain ultimately not because of his signature of the marriage vow, but because of Herman Cain’s failed campaign strategy and the fact Santorum campaigned hard.  Santorum’s commitment to social conservative principles certainly helped, but he didn’t need to sign the pledge to prove his bona fides. 

Example #2 – Iowa Gun Owners – This email I received actually made me throw up in my mouth a little.  They wrote:

On Saturday, at the Iowa Straw Poll, Iowa Gun Owners members and supporters made themselves heard,
advancing two pro-gun candidates and toppling a third anti-gunner

Governor Pawlenty REFUSED to say where he stood on important Second Amendment issues.  The winners of the straw poll are solid, pro-gun candidates — but more on that in a moment. Tim Pawlenty, an early national favorite to win the Iowa Straw Poll, finished a lack-luster — and very distant — third place in the poll and was forced to drop out of the Presidential race on Sunday  under pressure from gun owners.

You see, Pawlenty refused to tell gun owners where he stood on important firearms issues. Refusing to  return a survey is often an indication that a candidate is hiding something — often anti-gun beliefs.

Iowa Gun Owners mobilized tens of thousands of gun rights activists across Iowa with phone calls and e-mails urging Pawlenty to return the Iowa Gun Owners Presidential Candidates survey.

Insiders on the campaign tell us his Iowa campaign office was flooded with phone calls and emails from gun owners demanding Governor Pawlenty make a stand, and return the survey.

Then the email ends jumping all over Texas Governor Rick Perry (could somebody really get elected in Texas without being pro-2nd Amendment, just saying) and then asked for money which seems pretty shameless.  While I am sure that some decided not to vote for him for that reason, I doubt they were the cause of his loss.  Perhaps he didn’t send in the survey because his record speaks for itself:

Pawlenty signed one of the best concealed-carry laws in the nation, and then signed it again after the first law was stricken by the courts for violation of the single-subject rule.

Pawlenty also has been quoted saying, "The people of our state respect Second Amendment rights for gun owners… Minnesotans understand that it’s wrong to play politics with our constitutional rights."

Anyway, Tim Pawlenty lost because of Tim Pawlenty.  If we were to do a postmortem of his campaign we’d find:

  • He just was unable to generate the passion and enthusiasm for his campaign that Bachmann and Paul did.  If you are not excited about your candidate you’re not motivated to give up a Saturday to go to a straw poll.
  • While he had the best organization the polls never reflected that he was a front runner.
  • He was labeled an “establishment candidate” early on and never could shake it.
  • He had missed opportunities to distinguish himself in earlier debates, and when he did go after the front runners it was ineffective and actually did him harm.  He needed to do it, but Bachmann countered well.
  • He was handled too much by his national staff, one example was a meeting I attended where his Iowa staff agreed for it to be on the record, and his campaign manager, Nick Ayers, requested it to be off-the-record.  A Pawlenty supporter came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t understand why that had to be off the record?”  This would have gained him some positive exposure.  This is just one example, but I can’t believe this was an isolated experience and it helped to breed mistrust.
  • His tagline was “results, not rhetoric,” but Minnesota Nice wasn’t working for him.
  • He had difficultly overcoming his “clunkers” which were not in the social or gun rights categories, but in the fiscal arena.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but for organizations to claim any credit is pretty disingenuous.

Photo by Dave Davidson 

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