On the social networking site Twitter, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty tweeted:
On seizing debate opportunity re: healthcare: Me 0, Mitt 1. On doing healthcare reform the right way as governor: Me 1, Mitt 0
This shows a recognition by the Pawlenty camp that the advisers who are often revered by the Beltway cognoscenti may have made a huge tactical mistake leading up to and during last Monday’s CNN debate in New Hampshire.
On Sunday, Pawlenty went on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and derogatorily linked President Obama’s and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney‘s health care plans as “ObamneyCare.”
The very next day, Pawlenty refused to repeat that phrase during the debate and came across as weak.
This moment not only made Pawlenty look weak, but it was an example of Pawlenty not realizing who the audience was for the debate.
Sure, Pawlenty probably wanted to introduce himself on a national stage in a positive light, but the debate probably mattered more to insiders and fundraisers within the GOP who were looking to find an alternative candidate to Mitt Romney.
On Sunday, Pawlenty teased that he could be that candidate.
During the debates, he left many people believing that he was not such a candidate.
Further, by being afraid to clearly differentiate himself from Romney, questions were asked if Pawlenty would be tough enough to take on Obama in the main event if he could not even take on his competitors in the primary.
Pawlenty’s tweet is a clear admission that his camp messed up during the debate.
Tweeting a response days after a debate still makes Pawlenty someone who is too afraid to confront someone face to face, but it still is a small step forward in the right direction in lessening the image of him as a nice guy too afraid to draw sharp contrasts between himself and his opponents.
Unfortunately, perception is often nine-tenths reality, and if Pawlenty is perceived as being “weak” and “timid” and “nice,” then it won’t matter how bold his policies are or how savvy his operatives are.
It is obvious the Pawlenty camp, if they didn’t realize this leading up to the debate, realize it now.