Sabato: Pawlenty is bland, Bachmann is dynamite in GOP pond

University of Virgina Political Scientist Larry Sabato released his 2012 presidential rankings for the GOP. To no one’s surprise, he listed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the front runner. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are also considered in his top tier.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is listed fourth on the rankings. Sabato gives him praise for the work he’s been doing to ramp up his name identification but he said Pawlenty’s blandness could be a problem.

Tim Pawlenty: The former two-term governor of Minnesota is by all accounts a dark horse for the GOP nomination. Even Pawlenty would agree with that. But there are long longshots and short longshots, and Pawlenty is in the latter category. He has been out in the field early and often, most recently promoting a new book, and while he has not made much of a splash, he has made progress. Pawlenty hopes that his blue-collar background will contrast with the Bluenose candidacy of Mitt Romney, if indeed Romney is able to maintain his front-runner status. Perhaps a little suspect because he was governor of a state with a liberal image, Pawlenty has insisted, maybe a little too strenuously, that he has been comprehensively conservative during his public life. As his supporters would suggest, at least he didn’t pass a version of Obamacare in Minnesota. Pawlenty is understated, with a wry sense of humor, and he hasn’t yet left much of an impression on the nascent campaign. But there is plenty of time, and as long as he can keep up his fundraising, Pawlenty can hope that the GOP field shakes out just right for an acceptable if bland Midwestern conservative. Stranger things have happened in presidential politics.

Sabato isn’t questioning the excitement around GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann has said she’s considering a 2012 run and will make her first entry into the 2012 with an appearance in Iowa tomorrow night. Sabato suggests in his rankings that Bachmann can’t win in a general election but says she would be a “stick of dynamite in the Republican pond.”

Michele Bachmann: Just elected to her third term in the U. S. House representing Minnesota’s conservative Sixth Congressional District, Bachmann had been thought to be aiming for the Senate seat of freshman Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar in 2012. But apparently, her ambitions are still greater. While she has given no firm indication of a White House candidacy, there have been hints, including a scheduled trip to Iowa. Bachmann is a Tea Party favorite, and she has been a fierce advocate for virtually every socially and fiscally conservative position, from opposing abortion and gay rights to promoting property rights, stringent debt reduction, and lower taxes. Bachmann has a controversial style, and she is no favorite of the House Republican leadership. But if she played by the rules, this junior congresswoman wouldn’t be on this list of possible presidential candidates. The most conservative activists love her, and she isn’t about to step aside easily for the former governor of her state, Tim Pawlenty, or another woman with even higher visibility in the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin. (Pawlenty in particular must be unhappy with Bachmann’s maneuverings.) We believe that gaining the GOP nomination for president is a bridge too far for any House member, including Bachmann. But she would certainly stir the pot; more accurately, she would be a stick of dynamite in the Republican pond.

You can read Sabato’s full analysis here.

in other 2012 news, a new poll has been released in Iowa that shows Pawlenty and Bachmann in the middle of the 2012 pack. Pawlenty received support from 4.39% of those polled. Bachmann received support from 3.66% of those polled.

  • Ralph Crammedin

    If Bachmann is a stick of dynamite in the pond, does that make Pawlenty a dead fish?

  • Marcus

    That’s a good analogy for Bachmann: Drive by, throw a stick of dynamite in the pond, blow things up, move on to create the next disaster without even taking the time to clean the fish guts off you from the last one.

  • Chris

    I’m not a Pawlenty fan, but I’ve never heard anyone describe him as “bland” until he started running for President. Is this just East Coast reporters’ euphemism for “Midwestern”?