Tim Pawlenty Pulls Ames Ads, Shifts to GOTV

Tim Pawlenty is rethinking his campaign strategy.

Tim Pawlenty is rethinking his campaign strategy.

Politico (“Tim Pawlenty to pull ads ahead of Ames Straw Poll“):

Tim Pawlenty will be pulling his radio and television ads off the air in the 72 hours before next Saturday’s straw poll in Ames.

The former Minnesota governor’s presidential campaign says it’s not short on cash, but simply planning to divert money into turning out supporters at the Aug. 13 event that’s a traditional test of campaign strength. They’re hoping Pawlenty’s already attracted enough voters through the time he’s spent in Iowa in recent months, especially in the last few weeks, when he’s been in the state nearly full-time. But the calculated shift in resources is also a recognition that Pawlenty needs to organize his fans into a political machine capable of beating expectations — and his better-known 2012 rivals.


Instead, Pawlenty’s campaign will be using the cash to send out mailers reminding supporters to attend the Aug. 13 event. Phone banks, run by paid staffers and volunteers, will be calling people who’ve pledged to support the candidate.

The campaign has already written $50,000 in checks to Windstar Lines, an Iowa-based bus company, according to second-quarter campaign disclosure reports. But it declined to comment on its total transportation expenses for the straw poll.

They’re also finalizing the food and entertainment, which will include two bands. “It’s not, ‘Hey, we want you drive a couple hours stand in hot sun and go home.’ We want make it fun and good for families,” said Sanders.

I’m sure there’s a dumber way to select a challenger to an incumbent president, although I can’t think of one offhand. Essentially, we’re conducting a meaningless, self-selected poll of people from the least representative state in the Union fifteen months ahead of the election. And candidates are allowed to bribe people into coming with free food, beer, and entertainment. And bus them in.

The press will treat this as if it is a real test of a candidate’s appeal and organizational strength.

Frankly, the national opinion polls provide much more useful information. And what they’re telling us is that, despite having been treated as a frontrunner for going on a year, Pawlenty is at 2.8 percent, only slightly ahead of Rick Santorum and with only a third of the support of Herman Cain. There are eight candidates ahead of Pawlenty right now, three of whom aren’t even running. And he’s trending down–although that could simply be a function of more candidates dividing up the “someone other than Romney” pie.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. hey norm says:

    des·per·ate   /ˈdɛspərɪt, -prɪt/ Show Spelled[des-per-it, -prit] Show IPA
    1. reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.
    2. having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention.
    3. leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperate illness.

  2. The only thing dumber than the Iowa Caucuses being the first test of the Presidential primary season is the Ames Straw Poll (which can easily be gamed by a candidate with money who buys tickets and brings in supporters) being an indication of strength in Iowa.

  3. I’m sure there’s a dumber way to select a challenger to an incumbent president, although I can’t think of one offhand.

    A hoedown showdown?

    Remaking “The Gong Show”?


    Beer pong?

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Paintball and beer pong would almost certainly be a better test of presidential timber than this thing. I’d have to see the ruleset for hoedown showdown or Gong Show to judge.

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    The point of Ames, Iowa and New Hampshire is geography. Any Massachusetts politician is expected to win New Hampshire(That´s when Romney beggan to lose in 2008), anyone coming from a neighboring Iowa state is expected to win there.

    That´s the Pawlenty´s dilema. He may win nothing winning Iowa, but he loses big if he loses.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Tim who?