Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Last month I wrote a post suggesting that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was one of the few Republican presidential hopefuls with the potential to build a winning center-right electoral coalition in 2012. I noted that to accomplish this, however, Pawlenty would need to resist the temptation for excessive pandering (a little is unavoidable) to the right wing of his party during the presidential primaries. So, I was a little surprised to see him follow former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s lead and insert himself into the now infamous race for New York’s 23rd district with an endorsement of the (losing) Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
Given everything I have seen from Pawlenty thus far, the move didn’t strike me as typical for him. Even a close Palin-watcher like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee managed to steer clear of this one. Sure enough, earlier today Pawlenty announced that in the future he would be limiting his endorsements to members of the Republican Party. While we are still a long way off from the next round of presidential primaries, this episode serves as an earlier reminder for Pawlenty of just how difficult it will be to chart his own course as a Republican presidential candidate, away from the other base jumpers in his party.

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