I bumped into Tim Pawlenty on the street in downtown Minneapolis yesterday. It was a funny convergence: Pawlenty, walking with an older gentleman, approached a street corner at the same time as Mike Hatch, a former DFL Attorney General and Pawlenty’s bitter political opponent, also with another man; two lawyers who are long-time GOP activists; and me–coming from different directions.
Pawlenty greeted me and the other Republicans briefly, then had a strikingly cordial exchange with Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor whom Pawlenty defeated in 2006. As we were all standing there, another man approached and, ignoring the rest of the group, asked me whether I was John Hinderaker. I confessed. He shook my hand. “It’s an honor to meet you,” he said. “I read your web site every day.” Celebrity: it’s all in the eye of the beholder!
Afterward, Pawlenty and I talked about his presidential run and his plans for the future. I said, as I’ve written here, that his timing was unfortunate. He came across as a traditional presidential candidate in a year when most of the party’s base was looking for something different, something outside the box. I didn’t add, although I believe it to be true, that Pawlenty was the GOP’s surest bet to defeat Obama in 2012. That water, though, is now over the dam.