Republicans will hold their first candidate debate on Thursday with a depleted line-up without the party's most high-profile contenders.
The nationally televised debate in South Carolina will feature only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and four lesser-known contenders for the right to challenge President Barack Obama next year.
In his post debate interview with the Republican candidates, Sean Hannity gushed over the former Minnesota governor, calling him a "front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination." Who the hell is Tim Pawlenty and what on earth makes him a "front-runner" or "top-tier" candidate?
Could it be name recognition and media profile? Pawlenty admitted himself at the debate that he's "not very well known outside of Minnesota." By contrast, another candidate on the stage at the Republican debate is a house hold name and frequent guest on national television and radio programs. Yes, I'm referring to Congressman Ron Paul.
Could it be fundraising ability? According to Pawlenty's first quarter 2011 FEC report, he raised only $138,000 in three months, not even a fifth of the more than one million dollars Ron Paul raised in a single 24 hour period with this debate day "money bomb" on May 5th. And for the first quarter of the year, Paul reported over three million raised for his various political organizations and PACs.
Could it be conservative credentials? Tim Pawlenty is a big government, liberal Republican from a northern state who advocated strict cap-and-trade regulations as well as universal health care, scoring a "C" ranking on the Cato Institute's 2006 Governor's Report Card. By contrast, Ron Paul has a small-government record even his critics cannot assail-- of fighting to decrease the size, role, and influence of government, and he was recently referred to as the "godfather" of the Tea Party movement by Chris Wallace.
Could it be Pawlenty's electability? He wasn't even mentioned in CNN's recent scientific poll published mere hours before the debate, which found that Ron Paul would perform better against Barack Obama in a hypothetical 2012 match up than any other likely GOP contender.
So what gives? Why on earth would the mainstream media try to pass Tim Pawlenty off as "top-tier" and dismiss Ron Paul altogether, when it's clear that Ron Paul was in fact the only true top-tier candidate in the first Republican debate? Why would they spin a relatively unknown governor from a small state as a "front-runner" while gleefully pointing out in every interview they do with Gary Johnson, another GOP contender and governor from a small state, that no one knows who he is?
The only substantial difference between Gary Johnson and Tim Pawlenty is that Gary Johnson is a true conservative with a strong and undeniable record of limiting the size, role, and influence of government. Tim Pawlenty is a Republican In Name Only with a record of supporting big government, more entitlements, stricter regulations, and central economic planning. If that's what Republican voters want, they should just stay home on the day of their state's primary and vote for Obama in the general election.
So who the hell is Tim Pawlenty? A blue state liberal with no name recognition, no money, no conservative credentials, and no chance of getting the Republican Party's nomination in 2012.
(Video version of "Who the hell is Tim Pawlenty?" here.)
Editor in Chief, THL
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