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Drawing Distinctions
ANALYSIS July 25, 2011

Pawlenty and Bachmann
The two Minnesota candidates have been mixing it up a bit.  Pawlenty and Bachmann offer decidedly different approaches.  Pawlenty is low-key, while Bachmann is outspoken.  Pawlenty has effectively been running for president since 2009; Bachmann was not even seen as a potential candidate until after the 2010 mid-term elections.  Yet the two are linked by their Midwestern roots, and they are trying to appeal to many of the same groups (tea partiers, evangelicals, Iowans).  Since her emergence as a potential candidate, Bachmann has overshadowed Pawlenty.1  Something had to give, and on July 10 Pawlenty fired the first shot during an appearance on NBC News' "Meet the Press," focusing on Bachmann's experience more than her positions.  Pawlenty declared, "[H]er record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent."  Bachmann responded with a statement, declaring, "Instead of negativity, I want to focus on my accomplishments."The sniping continued the next weekend as Bachmann issued a statement pointing to her "record of success in the real world in business, the law, and in fighting for our principles."  "Executive experience is not an asset if it simply means bigger and more intrusive government," she wrote, highlighting instances in Pawlenty's record where he had taken positions at odds with the conservative viewpoint.

1. The Star Tribune's Steve Sack has captured the dynamic in several editorial cartoons: 

One from Feb. 26, 2011 shows the two as planets.  "Q. What do you call it when Michele Bachmann surpasses Tim Pawlenty in a Gallup presidential poll?  A. A loony eclipse." 

Another shows "Prez Hopeful Tim Pawlenty Visits Michele Bachmann."  Pawlenty, holding a measuring cup, stands at Bachmann's door.  "I'm having trouble firing up the base
—" he states.  "Can I borrow a cup of crazy?"

Another shows Pawlenty in Bachmann's shadow thinking, "Which way to Iowa?" "Which way to New Hampshire?" "—"and most important, which way out of Michele Bachmann's shadow???" 

Another shows a see-saw labeled "Campaign Buzz" with Bachmann in the air on one end and Pawlenty crushed under the other end.  She states, "You'll get the hang of it, Gov. Pawlenty
—you've only been at this for two years."

2. Democracy in Action.  "Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty Appears on NBC News' "Meet the Press," July 10, 2011.

3. Bachmann for President statements, July 24, 2011.

Huntsman and Romney

The Huntsman campaign has sought to draw distinctions between Huntsman and Romney from the outset.1  The two men have a fair bit in common: they are both Mormons, both have Utah ties, both have significant business experience, and both have rugged good looks.  Romney has the advantage of having run previously, so he has established some familiarity with voters and has also learned what didn't work and made adjustments.  Romney is also seen as a frontrunner, albeit a weak frontrunner.  Huntsman has the advantage of foreign policy experience, and points to his successes as governor.  However, they are competing for many of the same fundraisers and voters.2  In the first few months, the Romney campaign did not seem to pay much attention to Huntsman, instead keeping its focus on the economy.  Romney nonetheless dealt a rather severe blow to Huntsman on July 6, when his campaign announced endorsements of more than 60 Utah elected officials.3  The Huntsman campaign seemed to be having difficulty finding a groove, and on July 21 campaign manager Susie Wiles announced her resignation.  Senior advisor Jon Weaver issued a statement, "Now the campaign is moving into phase two which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint."  Aggressive meant focusing more attention Obama and on Romney; this was evident, for example, from a July 25 Huntsman release "The Romney-Obama Budget Plan: Raise Taxes."4

1. See for example one of the Huntsman campaign's launch videos, "An Authentic Conservative," which includes several barbs directed at Romney or the semil-daily "The Morning Hunt."

2. See Luis F. Perez.  "Romney, Huntsman to Compete for Utah Donors."  Newsmax, May 12, 2011.  Also Matt Viser.  "Romney camp moved London fundraiser out of Huntsman supporter’s home."  Boston Globe, July 1, 2011

In terms of voters, Huntsman signaled his intent to compete aggressively in New Hampshire, which is seen as almost a must win state for Romney.  See for example Steve Peoples.  "Huntsman building big NH team, changing tone."  Associated Press, July 26, 2011.  Peoples writes that Huntsman "is quietly assembling what may end up being the largest paid GOP primary effort in the state's history." 

Also a couple of editorial cartoons were found which address the Mormon question, and the challenge it poses in winning over evangelical voters.  The cartoons are quite similar; both portray Huntsman and Romney as missionaries trying to win over a Republican elephant.  (Bagley, for the Salt Lake Tribune—Huntsman: "What do you really know about Mormons..."  Romney: "...and would you care to learn more?"  Elephant: "Nothing and no."  Fitzsimmons, for the Arizona Daily Star—Huntsman:"I'm Elder Huntsman and he's Elder Romney."  Romney: "We're Moderates."  Elephant: "No, thanks.  I got my own religion."

3. Romney for President press release. "Mitt Romney Announces Support of Utah Officials."  July 6, 2011.  (It turned out that one state Rep. on the list actually supported Huntsman, but the fact that so many officials from Huntsman's home state would back another candidate did not appear to bode well for him).  Huntsman did a little response in kind the next day, announcing Jim Rappaport as chair of his campaign in Massachusetts.

4. Jon Huntsman for President release. "From the Reality Room: The Romney-Obama Budget Plan: Raise Taxes."  July 25, 2011.

Copyright © 2010, 2011 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action. All rights reserved.