JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 8, 2011
I wrote earlier today that Tim Pawlenty's campaign represents a return to "the Bush method of finding a candidate with conspicuous working-class mannerisms to sell the plutocratic policy." But one key part of the method is to not come right out and say that this is what you're doing. Stephen Hayes reports from Iowa:
With that, Pawlenty launches into his personal story—and spends seven minutes telling it. He’s the son of a truck driver, a boy who lost his mother as a teenager, a scrappy hockey player who worked in the produce section of a grocery store, an ambitious student who worked his way through college, and a public servant who rose through local politics to become governor and now a serious presidential candidate.
And then Pawlenty returns to his electoral appeal. Unlike the other candidates, he ran, governed, and won reelection in a blue state. His blue-collar background would allow him to compete for votes that Republicans don’t usually win.
“Let me be real blunt with you,” he says. “Every Republican candidate is going to come through a room like this and talk to a group like this and they’re basically going to say the same thing. Every one of them is going to say, ‘I’m for cutting taxes; I’m for reducing spending; I’m for school choice and school accountability and school reform; I’m for market-based, not government-based health care reform; I’m for being tough on terrorism and standing with friends around the world including Israel; I’m for public-employee pension reform.’ ”
“The question for you is who can do it, who has the fortitude to do it, and who will sell in blue places and purple places. Everybody’s going to say, ‘I’m the one who can get the independents in the end. I’m the one who can get the conservative Democrats.’ But,” he said, “I’m the one who actually did it.”
Now, Pawlenty doesn't mention the part about the plutocratic agenda, of course. But he does present his blue collar background as a device that can be used to sell the standard Republican agenda to voters who would otherwise regard it skeptically. You're not supposed to say that!
Mike Crowley notes that Pawlenty has a background as a political operative, which may explain him pitching himself using the language of an operative. I suppose it is honest, though.