Pundits who might be drafting obituaries for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign for the GOP presidential nomination — and there have been a few — would get an argument from Pawlenty campaign manager Nick Ayers.
In fact, Ayers wrote in an email to backers Saturday, Pawlenty gained traction during a road trip through the Hawkeye State, where a straw poll looms on Aug. 13. Pawlenty’s “record and message will stand the test of a brutal campaign,” Ayers wrote.
Ayers’ email said, in part:
“I spent the week on the road with the Governor and Mrs. Pawlenty. We traveled nearly 700 miles through Iowa, stopped in 18 counties, slept in five different hotels, visited four Subway sandwich shops, and ended the week with one game of pick-up hockey in Des Moines (T.Paw even scored!). No matter where we went, Iowans were interested to learn about Governor Pawlenty’s values, experience, and vision for our country. It was clear his authenticity resonated with them. He successfully made the case, that in 2008, voters elected a member of Congress with no executive experience. We can’t afford the cost of inexperience any longer, and Iowans get are getting that. He also made the case that we have a leading candidate for President who is running from his record and another who doesn't have a record. Governor Pawlenty is proud of his record. Iowans got that, too.
“But, most importantly, Iowans understand the fact that he turned around one of the most liberal states in America.
"As you know Governor Pawlenty transformed the Minnesota Supreme Court. He set a record for gubernatorical vetoes. He took on the unions and successfully reformed their pensions. He took on the teachers unions and successfully passed the nation's first merit pay system in education. And he refused to increase spending with a Democratic legislature — in defense of the taxpayers — was forced to shut down the government over it and won.
"Most Americans and many Iowans don't know this story, but they are finding it out now. This doesn't make great fodder for cable news but as more Republican primary voters start to tune in to the race, they are finding out that the Governor’s record and message will stand the test a brutal campaign. Other candidates’ records (or lack thereof), and plans for the future (or lack thereof) won't.
“Yes, the national press continue to write a different narrative. But no successful campaign goes untested. We're weathering our ‘test’ well and here are a few nuggets of proof:
- “We just had a record week of straw poll sign-ups.
- “According to a 1,000 sample size poll in Iowa this week — we are now in second place — ahead of Romney, behind Bachmann.
- “11 more legislators endorsed us in Florida . . .
“Keep fighting with us.”
Ayers also notes that the Pawlenty campaign launched two new commercials in Iowa, one of which touts him as the only viable candidate:
The other ad, titled “The American Comeback,” uses ABC footage and audio from the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” Olympic victory over the Russians in 1980. ABC Sports alleges copyright infringement and wants the campaign to put it in the penalty box.
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