When Gov. Tim Pawlenty flew to Germany last year to attend a conference on terrorism and security, there were a few suggestions that the governor was burnishing his credentials in the interest of ending up on the presidential ticket. At the time, the governor dismissed the suggestion, saying he was invited because he chaired the National Governors Association. But we were all in “he wants to be vice president” mode, despite his denials (at the time), and all of his moves were run through the VP aspirations filter.
As I pointed out last year, only one other governor with NGA connections had been invited in the previous nine years.
This year’s rationale: Minnesota is sending National Guard soldiers to Iraq, so “it’s helpful to have a deep understanding of security issues,” his spokesman said.
The federal government is paying the bill.
Aside: The U of M’s Smart Politics blog does a nice analysis of Gov. Pawlenty’s approval ratings and says anyone who thinks the governor will lose popularity in a budget showdown with the DFL should think again.