While there are many highly qualified candidates for Mitt Romney to pick for vice president, many of whom I regard as friends, let me highlight five reasons why Governor Tim Pawlenty would be an excellent pick. Clearly, I am biased on this issue. As the treasurer for the Pawlenty for President campaign, I continue to believe that he would not only be a great vice president, but a great president as well. As a Minnesotan who has known Tim and his wife, Mary, since Tim's days in the Minnesota legislature, I have seen him grow and mature into a highly capable leader.
1. Pawlenty is a team player. It is essential for a vice president to stay in step with the president, to shine the light on the commander in chief and not on himself or herself. While a strong leader in his own right with much to contribute, Tim has proven to be an effective team player. An early misstep in his campaign for president was not more assertively criticizing Romney's health-care record in the early debates. This was not a result of Tim not being fully committed to consumer driven health care -- he is. In my view, it was his "we are all on the same team" instincts kicking in. Although a handicap in a primary debate, this is a strength as a member of a national ticket.
2. Appeals to the base without scaring the middle. On essentially all the issues about which the conservative base feels passionate, Tim is with them -- and comfortably so. As a committed Christian, he can help quiet the concerns of an important segment of the Republican base. Yet his tone and temperament, not to mention his wonderful wife and their two daughters, allow him to connect with suburban voters who will be pivotal in this race.
3. True fiscal credentials. During eight years as governor of the great state of Minnesota, Pawlenty faced some of the largest deficits as a percentage of the budget in the nation. He balanced the Minnesota state budget each time without raising taxes and in many cases with a Democratic-controlled legislature. At a time when the fiscal cliff is one of the biggest threats our nation faces, this is a critical skill and credential. As treasurer of his campaign, let me note that he concluded his campaign committee with all vendors paid and no debt. Tim understands that an essential rule of life is to not spend more than you have.
4. Swing state appeal. If Minnesota becomes a swing state, Romney will indeed be president. Yet the state doesn't need to swing for Pawlenty to make major contributions to the Romney ticket. Tim's Midwest appeal can make a pivotal difference in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and, importantly Ohio. In that Minnesota's high tax rates have been a major contributing factor to the population growth of the west coast of Florida, his ability to help there should not be discounted.
5. Blue collar cred. Unlike either President Obama or Mitt Romney, Pawlenty has authentic working class roots. He is the son of a truck driver and a first-generation college graduate. He is proud of his roots and enthusiastic about his continuing love for hockey. His championing of Sam's Club Republicans in authentically motivated.
No discussion of Tim would be complete without highlighting what an asset his wife, Mary, is to him and would be to a combined Romney-Pawlenty ticket. Though no one is perfect (besides my wife), Tim would be a wise choice to complete Mitt Romney's ticket.
Mark R. Kennedy leads George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and is Chairman of the Economic Club of Minnesota. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of Federated Department Stores (now Macy's).
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