The Pawlenty stakeout

If you’ve ever wondered why ABC News and other TV networks don’t do more serious coverage of issues in the race for president, this reporter’s notebook about staking out Tim Pawlenty’s house in Eagan provides a pretty obvious answer.

Multiply the fairly ridiculous energy on the possibility of getting a scoop that doesn’t matter to non-political reporters and those outside the Beltway, by the number of possible VP picks and you can figure out what resources might be left for serious reporting.


On day two of the stakeout, he came to say “Hi,” and brought assurances that there were no clandestine meetings with anyone from Boston, stressing throughout our time together that he was “telling it to you straight.”

He did offer me a cold beer, although, as a working journalist behind the wheel of a parked car, I was forced to decline.

On day three, hours of air conditioning and laptop charging led to a dead car battery. And despite seriously considering asking Pawlenty for a jump, your unbiased reporter called the car rental company.

“Does ABC have no sense of humanity?” Pawlenty asked on day four, pulling up in his gray Ford Taurus and noting that reporters who stake out vice presidential candidates spend an awful lot of time in hot, parked cars. “Need anything from Hardware Hank?” he asked, driving off.

What he was buying at Hardware Hank might’ve provided a clue. If it was plumbing supplies, he was going to be too busy at home to be running for vice president. Should’ve followed him.

  • Mark

    Maybe bring this up the next time there’s a pledge drive.

  • Bob Collins

    I don’t follow.

  • Kevin Watterson

    I thought it was an interesting story in that it gave a view of a politician that most people don’t get to see and is probably a better insight into one than any of the recent bio pieces on Paul Ryan. But I agree it’s a total waste of a reporter to camp them out for that long.

  • Bob Collins

    Years ago, when I started Polinaut (now Capitol Letter), I had a list of questions I thought would be illuminating. One of them was “do you mow your own lawn?” (having your kids do it doesn’t count). So, yeah, I see value in that sort of thing like what kind of car do you drive, what’s on your iPod etc.

    Is it a substitute for positions? Of course not. But they mostly lie about their positions. It’s hard to disguise that you drive a Toyota Tercel.

  • Kevin Watterson

    Or a Ford Taurus.