When he announced his candidacy for President with a web video on May 22, 2011, Tim Pawlenty went immediately and directly after Barack Obama for "not telling the truth". The next day in Iowa, he declared:
I’m here today to tell Iowans the truth, too.
America is facing a crushing debt crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen before. We need to cut spending, and we need to cut it…big time. The hard truth is that there are no longer any sacred programs.
The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.
This opening salvo of the campaign generated huge excitement and support from conservatives in the media from Rush Limbaugh to the Wall Street Journal editorial page and among many RedStaters. Unfortunately, T-Paw's candidacy came to an abrupt end with a disappointing finish in the Ames Straw Poll. His withdrawal announcement on August 14, 2011, was the subject of a highly positive diary by Erick, in which he said in part:
Tim Pawlenty’s service to his country is not yet done I suspect and I hope.
I now believe that hope was, in fact, a prophecy. Among all of the potential VP choices being vetted, Tim Pawlenty is by far and away the best.
Within a month after ending his own Presidential bid, T-Paw endorsed Mitt Romney. His first event with Romney was on Sept. 12, 2011, at the Boeing plant in Charleston, SC, that was then under attack by the NLRB. He said that "Mitt Romney has the most knowledge, the most capability, the most electability of any candidate in this race" and he said it at a time when virtually all conservatives were still searching for Any-But-Romney. He went on to campaign for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire.
When Newt Gingrich attacked Romney's record at Bain Capital, it was T-Paw who rose to Romney's defense, while Romney himself shrugged off the charges. Pawlenty accused Gingrich and Perry of "acting like Democrats", and rightfully predicted that Barack Obama would use this same line of attack. His defense of Romney was both impassioned and specific, not just a generic defense of the free enterprise system itself.
Sure, you can make the case for any of the other potential VP choices. Do I need to recount T-Paw's credentials? A 2 term Republican governor in a blue state, a Mid-Western, a Blue Collar background, impeccable fiscal and social conservative credentials. Shall I go on? But most of all, Loyalty is a highly valued commodity for Mitt Romney. So the first Any-but-Mitt candidate, will soon become the last man standing in the veepstakes. Go ahead and print up the campaign signs, buttons and bumper sticker: Romney-Pawlenty, 2012.