Walter Shapiro studies his weaknesses:
“He’s always had it figured out,” says former senior gubernatorial aide Tom Hanson. But suddenly nothing makes sense for Pawlenty. He is a guy who lifted himself out of his working-class roots, partly putting himself through college by bagging groceries. Along the way, he never left anything to chance, micromanaging every aspect of his career, sometimes exasperating those close to him with his obsession for detail. But now, rather than solidifying his position as the credible right-wing alternative to Mitt Romney, he finds himself distracted by thunder on his own right in the form of Bachmann. Why is it that Tim Pawlenty—for whom everything appeared perfect in theory—cannot seem to break through?
One of Pawlenty's sore spots from his time as governor was his tax hike. As part of a deal he struck to end a government shutdown in 2006, he agreed to an extra 75-cent/pack charge on cigarettes, which he called a "health impact fee." Conservatives read that as a tax (which it was), and hammered him for it, but Pawlenty doggedly stuck with the name and hoped that Republicans would cut him some slack, considering he was governor and he had to cut some sort of deal with the Democratic legislature. He wasn't going to get it from Bachmann, who almost immediately introduced a bill to repeal the tax. Salt, meet wound.
(Image of new campaign slogans by Weigel)