SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Vice presidential prospect Tim Pawlenty won't talk about the vice presidential vetting process, but he will tell you about his favorite beers.
Putting in another solid day of swing-state advocacy on behalf of Mitt Romney, the former Minnesota governor pumped up the GOP nominee's small government policies, sampled local ice cream and won laughs from supporters when he deployed some recently-unveiled stump speech jokes at the president's expense.
"I don't know about you, but I enjoy a cold beer once in a while," he said at Dublin Pub in Dayton, Ohio, listing some of the available sudsy brands. "I know you probably have some Guinness here, and some Smithwick’s, and some Edmund Fitzgerald, who knows what else? Miller and Budweiser and all kinds of other stuff."
Imagining the unsatisfying scenario of being served a foamy pint of beer, Pawlenty delivered the punch line: "Barack Obama is all foam and no beer. And you can't live on the foam. His speeches are his foam."
That's an analogy that Pawlenty says "most Americans can relate to."
"I think most people can relate to the notion that if you want a cold beer you want the beer, you don't want the foam," he told NBC News after an appearance in Springfield. "That sort of gets in the way of the beer and it's not the substance of what you're hoping for. And that's kind of like President Obama's presidency. It's all speeches, it's all words, it's all fancy rhetoric but the results haven't been there."
His personal favorites? Minnesota-brewed Grain Belt Nordeast and Summit Extra Pale Ale, he said.
Two of the three men known to be on the general election ticket do not drink alcohol; neither Vice President Joe Biden nor Mitt Romney partake.
Pawlenty, wearing an untucked casual blue shirt and jeans, offered a fierce defense of the GOP nominee's record both on the stump and in an interview.
Asked about criticism of Romney's foreign trip, which has been marked by controversy over his public skepticism about London's preparedness for the 2012 London Games, Pawlenty dismissed the kerfuffle as "overblown."
"I think the criticism of his comments in London were way overblown and way overstated and I think the rest of the trip has gone well," he said.
While Romney is the frequent butt of jokes for his sometimes robotic-seeming interactions with strangers, his Minnesotan surrogate chatted easily with customers and employees when he stopped at Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. There, Pawlenty chatted with local elected officials - including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine - and posed with children, even coaching them to crown him with "bunny ears."
And he showed the only hint of a diversion from his much-discussed "Minnesota Nice" aura when pausing for a photo with young workers at the ice cream parlor.
"Cross your arms!" he instructed them after one smiling snapshot. Demonstrating a grimace and a tough guy look, he added, "Now, look angry!"