Pawlenty in ’08?

ABC’s Note reports on a meeting, two weeks ago, of the conservative Council on National Policy in Orlando:

Members of the CNP, an influential and private group that works behind the scenes to influence Republican politics, were already pondering the election in 2008.
Several noted that for the first time in many presidential cycles, prominent social conservatives have yet to identify a potential favorite.
In informal conversations, as described by two of the participants, more than a dozen names were thrown around  most notably that of popular conservative Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Other potential candidates such as Sen. Bill Frist and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were discussed as well, though Bush has said he will not run in 2008.
The participants, including respected commentator Paul Weyrich and the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, agreed that prominent conservatives should coordinate efforts to cultivate the candidate who best represents “values voters,” and Pawlenty fits that description.
“He seems to be in line with the views of what we now call the ‘values voters,’ which are very important to the future of the Republicans,” said Weyrich, who says he remains undecided about who he’ll support in 2008.
“There aren’t a whole lot of candidates in that position. [Former New York Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani, he’s not satisfactory. {New York Gov. George] Pataki is not satisfactory, you go down the list.”

Pawlenty is an unusually talented politician, but I’ve been assuming 2008 is too early for him to run for President. He is up for re-election as Minnesota’s Governor next year, and would have to make running for President pretty much a full-time job immediately thereafter to acquire the necessary name recognition by 2008.
Still, the race looks wide open on the Republican side, and if no one else successfully fills the vacuum, and Pawlenty emerges as the conservatives’ favorite, anything could happen.

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