Unlike Newt Gingrich, he does not have the political scars that come with a long career under intense scrutiny. He does not enjoy the intensity of support directed at Sarah Palin, nor does he generate the passion of her detractors. And Mitt Romney’s efforts to remake himself as more of a social conservative provide an object lesson in handling questions about authenticity.
“I think the people who get tossed around in this process are people who don’t have their compass set, who don’t have their feet firmly planted on the ground,” Mr. Pawlenty said in an interview. “And then they start to just grab for the wind and they flop around. That’s not me.”
The “Romney alternative” narrative continues:
Mr. Pawlenty is positioning himself as a leading alternative to Mr. Romney, who starts the race with a significant fund-raising advantage in his second bid for the party’s nomination. But that is the most sought-after role in the Republican field, one that Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi is also hoping to fill.Mr. Pawlenty has benefited from Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana opting to stay out of the race. But his efforts to win Tea Party support may be complicated by a fellow Minnesotan, Representative Michele Bachmann, who spent the weekend in New Hampshire, testing her own presidential bid.
Gingrich, according to advisers, is also vying to be the “Romney alternative.”