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Pawlenty comes alive on campaign trail


Manchester, NH -- Whats the difference between Tim Pawlenty the candidate and Tim Pawlenty the surrogate?

A lot.

The former presidential candidate who frequently faced criticism for being dull and unable to connect with voters has established himself as one of Mitt Romney's top surrogates by being the exact opposite.

Whether on the trail, in the spin room after debates or speaking with voters, Pawlenty has used his new role to let his personality show in ways that rarely came through in the days leading up to the Iowa Straw Poll.

That charisma was on display Sunday night during a brief swing through Romney's New Hampshire headquarters when he spoke to volunteers working the phones.

"Go deep," he told a Romney staffer after catching a football when he walked in the door.  The former Minnesota governor wound up and failed to connect with his intended receiver, instead narrowly missing a campaign sign hanging on the adjacent wall.

He then gave a pep talk to the young volunteers making calls just two days before the first-in-nation primary, starting with a joke about the person he described as Minneapolis' most famous son, NBA player Kris Humphries.  The former Minnesota governor took a jab at the basketball player's short lived marriage to celebrity Kim Kardashian.

"Don't feel too bad for Kris Humphries. His marriage lasted longer than my presidential campaign," said Pawlenty.

After thanking the volunteers for their hard work, he asked for some advice.

"I just got one last question, I have an 18-year-old, I have a 15-year-old, they listen to all this music that's not of my generation.  Not including Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or any of that, give me something that I can go back that's new that they won't know about that I can say check out this person or band so it looks like I know what I'm talking about," he asked.

Perhaps a sign of how attune he is to popular culture, no one was able to give him a new suggestion.  He brushed off the various suggestions of top 40 artists, shaking his head and saying "that's established."

In what turned out to be the final days of his candidacy, Pawlenty barnstormed through Iowa, holding town hall after town hall, sticking around to interact with voters only briefly before racing off to his next event.  As a candidate, he could not get over the characterization that he was uninspiring, a claim passionately dismissed by those who knew him from his day in the Minnesota state legislature.

After posing for a picture with the spritely volunteers, he requested "a funny one," telling everyone to stand back-to-back with arms crossed as the camera flashed.  He then grabbed a sucker out of a bowl sitting on the table and made some calls to New Hampshire residents urging them to vote for his new boss.

Earlier in the day Pawlenty stumped with Romney, and will be on hand at the former Massachusetts governor's victory party on Tuesday.