The official purpose of Tim Pawlenty's visit to Iowa was to help Republicans on Iowa's fall ballot.
No really, the GOP needs seven more seats to gain control of the House and eight pickups to take the Senate. Pawlenty promoted local candidates at each stop and left most with a check from his political fund... why else would he be in Iowa?
The trip came on the tail end of a carefully choreographed week. Pawlenty spent an hour fielding questions from political reporters in Washington on Monday and, a few days later, debuted a sleek video that recaps his modest upbringing in a stockyards town and gives his take on the country's problems.
Possible Republicans in 2012 include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
"Let's remember, our rights and our privileges flow from our creator and not from our member of Congress," Pawlenty said at a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids.They come from neither, Tim. And if you think that Tim's going to keep church separated from State - guess again.
Pawlenty is a member of a large evangelical church back home, attended services Sunday with a Republican activist. Advisers also confirmed the governor made an unpublicized trip to Iowa a few weeks ago to address a private gathering of pastors.
To assert credibility on foreign policy, he mentioned his recent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. America needs to project strength, he said, criticizing the Obama administration for scrapping Bush-era plans for missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Such decisions send "messages of equivocation" to American allies, he said. Sounds Christ like, doesn't he?
"We need to make sure there is no confusion about where we stand, what we stand for and who we stand with," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty's concentration on eastern Iowa recognizes the importance of the area in caucuses. Republican stalwart Cheryl Kramer, who owns a bed and breakfast in the area, backed Romney last time but is in search of a new candidate for 2012.
She cut to the chase with Pawlenty, telling him before all those gathered in a country club ballroom, "I know you're interested in running for president."
Pawlenty let the remark slide.
"He's got the saddle and the bridle on," Kramer said in an interview later, adding, "He's a good communicator. He connects well with people. You have to connect with people in order to get them to work for you, and I think he has that gift."
You know who else was a good communicator? Yeah, that guy from Good Morning Vietnam. Think about it.