Something about Pawlenty is catching on in Fla
TAMPA - The vast majority of Floridians couldn't pick Tim Pawlenty out of a lineup. He barely registers in the polls. And there's a decent chance he'll have to quit the presidential race soon if he continues to show little momentum in Iowa. And yet something curious is happening in Florida: Influential Republican leaders - particularlly younger ones - continue to line up behind the former Minnesota governor, even with little evidence he's a viable contender.
"I don't know or care if he's got a 5 percent chance or a 50 percent chance or an 80 percent chance, what matters right now is we need people who stand up for what they believe in,'' said state Rep. Richard Corcoran of New Port Richey, a Pawlenty supporter in line to be speaker of the Florida House.
Another future House speaker, former Mitt Romney supporter Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, likened it to PC users who are satisfied with their computers and Apple users who are ardent about them.
"Other people support their candidate, but Tim Pawlenty people are passionate about him," Dorworth said before a Pawlenty fundraising lunch that drew about 40 people to Tampa's InterContinental hotel Tuesday.
The campaign stop was only part of a busy political week in Tampa, which starting Wednesday hosts the Republican National Committee's summer meeting. More than 200 people will be in town checking out the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Florida is expected to have one of the earliest presidential primary contests, and on a fundraising swing that took Pawlenty, 50, through Orlando Monday evening and Tampa and Miami on Tuesday, he made clear Florida is a key part of his strategy to win the nomination.
"We're looking forward to having a robust campaign in Florida. I think we've got the earliest and best and most prominent team of political leaders, volunteer leaders in this state," he said in an exclusive interview with the St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9 airing Sunday on Political Connections.