Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s formal announcement of his presidential candidacy came a little less than 10 years from his first campaign stop in Brainerd.
It was September of 2001, just days before the 9/11 attacks. He was the Republican House majority leader then and was greeted by then-Rep. Dale Walz, R-Brainerd, and Paul Koering who was then a potential candidate for the District 12 state Senate seat in 2002. Pawlenty wore a bright red shirt with no tie when he brought his day-old campaign to Brainerd’s airport. His primary political target was incumbent Gov. Jesse Ventura, who ended up not running for re-election.
Now Pawlenty joins a long list of Minnesotans — Harold Stassen, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and others — who have launched a White House bid from the North Star state.
Even when we disagreed with Pawlenty during his eight-year tenure as governor, there was never any question that he was a likable, articulate leader. That hasn’t changed.
In the spirit of home state pride, we’ll note two points he emphasized in his first few days of campaigning that impressed us. One, is that he was willing to talk about eventually eliminating ethanol subsidies in Iowa. This is a potentially sensitive topic in a farm state and he should be credited for his candor. Similarly, Pawlenty wasn’t afraid to talk about raising the retirement age for Social Security for younger workers while in Florida.
We hope we see that sort of forthrightness from all the other candidates in what promises to be a long, long political campaign.