Winking at Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty is running for president. Why can’t we just say it?

Former Gov. Pawlenty — like every presidential candidate before him — has played a cat-and-mouse game for more than three years about his presidential ambitions. Tim Pawlenty wants to be president. Tim Pawlenty is running for president. That remains the worst kept secret, except for the people writing the news stories, who are forced to continue to write as if he’s not because he hasn’t specifically said so.

Today, Pawlenty is going to “announce” on Facebook the equivalent of “I’m thinking of running for president,” by announcing he’s forming an exploratory campaign committee.

And we in the news media are falling for it again, creating a news story where, really, none exists.


If the former governor should become president and write a book about his campaign, trust me: It will not start with the events of March 21, 2011.

This cat-and-mouse game is good for anyone who wants to be president; it keeps the name in the news. This time, it’s being described as the “first formal step” in running for president.

That, of course, is a desperate search for a “hook” to make this seem like a news story. The first formal step was not running for re-election as governor. Another one was forming a PAC to collect money to give away to important politicians you’ll need someday if you want to be president, another was writing a book so that you can be interviewed by the national media and asked whether you’re running for president (where you can declare that you’ve not decided yet), followed by glitzy campaign-style commercials, not to mention all the trips to states that are important only once every four years.

In a few months, Tim Pawlenty will announce that his explorations have led him to announce he’s running for president. We in the media will be there to cover it as if we didn’t already know.


Update 2:23 p.m. Another glitzy commercial accompanied today’s announcement:

  • Ryan

    Well said.

    I would also argue that even after we finally know for sure that Pawlenty is running for President, you could replace “Coverage of whether he is running for president” with “Coverage of latest polling data” on your graph.

  • David Wilford

    Not to give journalists a pass here, but it isn’t as if Pawlenty is interested in answering questions that pertain to what kind of President he’d be. Better to be all things to all people, or at least most things to most people who you want to vote for you.

  • Heather

    Is he interested in being BO-ring? Because when I see his name in a headline, I yawn. Seriously bordering on a form of narcolepsy. Tim Pawlenty? Still thinking of running for the Preszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

  • Disco

    Thank you for this. You absolutely nailed the situation.

    Rachel Maddow did a great segment on the money to be made when you “haven’t decided” yet whether you’re running.

    IOW, you make a lot more money if you’re “maybe” running. But even if you aren’t running, you dare not say it, because then the money dries up.

  • Greg

    I agree it’s a ridiculous charade and somewhat shameful of the media for playing along.

    I seem to recall learning a few months ago that the real reason they play these games is for tax/campaign finance reasons… Isn’t it true that once a candidate makes such a formal announcement, they have to play by different rules?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re The N word –

    Kudos to Pitts for keeping it real.

    Experts on verbal communication say that 90% of meaning is manifested through tone and volume.

    And context.

    Written communication does not display an audio tone or volume, but context is ever present.

    Nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger.

    I’ve never used the word verbally or in print while referring to a human being with dark skin.

    As a word guy, I’m not comfortable with the term “African American” because it’s inaccurate ( are Caucasian or Asian people who were born in Africa and migrate to the U.S. “African Americans”?), and the vast majority of people who use the term tend to be white people who are trying to be politically correct.

    Most of my black friends and acquaintances refer to their skin color as black if the topic arises, as do I.

    Two renowned black cultural icons -Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou – agree to disagree on whether the word “nigger” should ever be used in any context.

    While I respect them both highly, I agree with Chappelle, yet I would not use the term “nigger” in a conversation with Angelou out of respect for the pain that the word invokes for her.

    I’m curious as to how she would respond to the word being changed in Twain’s work.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Sorry, Bob.

    I obviously somehow managed to post my comment under the wrong category.

    While there are a lot of derogatory terms that might be used for Pawlenty, the N word isn’t among them 🙂

  • Elizabeth T

    suspense? are you kidding?

    *My* suspense is whether or not Ms. Bachmann is going to run & whether, after failing to get the GOP nomination, she decides to run as a 3rd party candidate. She would, I believe, have no problem getting onto all 50 ballots. I doubt she would win, but she’d put up a good fight.

    As a member of the Green Party, I think the ability of anyone to put in a *serious* 3rd party candidacy and begin to open American politics to *real* competition is a Good Thing.

  • Michael

    I think i just threw up a little in my mouth when I watched TPaw’s video. He should include a footnote in his video, “I left Minnesota with a $5 billion deficit! Can I get a wut wut?!”

  • BJ

    I blame watergate, ok Richard Nixon.

    Many of the reasons for not anouncing you are running is because of laws passed because of watergate.

    Ok, I can still blame the media too. wink 😉

  • AmericanGirl


    symphonies and cymbal crashes.. roaring jets…chest pounding, ‘I am Tim Pawlenty: American” that all leads up to the announcement, I am creating an Exploratory Committee!!!!


  • Rich

    The media is complicit in the 24/7/365 campaign. Whether or not Pawlenty was going to run, the media used it as a hook to lure eyes to sites. Did Pawlenty use the media or did media the use us? Media is a business. No one should ever forget that fact.

  • Exploratory Comittee

    as if two shots at Governor wasn’t painful enough

    and horrifying. Think of all the slaughtering to be done yet to this country, Minnesota wasn’t enough. I would investigate where his campaign money is coming from to get a better glimpse of his future plans.

  • Jamie

    MPR didn’t have to play this stupid game, but you did. Why is that?