Tim Pawlenty Shows Two Sides of a Vice Presidential Contender

Vice presidential contender Tim Pawlenty campaigns in North Carolina.

July 28, 2012, 10:45 PM

RALEIGH, N.C., July, 28, 2012— -- On a day when Mitt Romney surrogates and vice presidential contenders were spread out all over the country, Tim Pawlenty showed two very different sides of himself as a possible running mate.

Dressed in a blue checkered shirt and jeans, he first held a small roundtable with "sports parents" at a local ice rink in Cary, beforeholding a much larger rally opening a campaign office in Raleigh.

At the Polar Ice Rink, he listened to voters about their concerns and pledged to take them back to the presumptive GOP nominee.

At the rally, it was a much more revved up Pawlenty, one rarely seen during his television appearances on behalf of Romney, attacking President Obama's record.

"I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing his teleprompter speeches and no results. His big fancy speeches from four years ago and since, those speeches, those words, they don't put gas in our cars, do they?" Pawlenty asked the crowd, to screams of, "No!"

He continued the back and forth: "And his teleprompter speeches don't pay the mortgage, do they? And President Obama's teleprompter speeches don't pay our health insurance premiums, do they? And they don't get our loved ones, our friends and our neighbors, a job in the country, do they? We've got a problem, because we've got a president who's all foam and no beer."

At the ice rink he was much more subdued, listening to the parents as a next door neighbor would, not the fiery politician usually required of a running mate, but at both events he spoke about his past struggles.

"I grew up in a meat packing town," Pawlenty told the parents, but again repeated it during the rally. "My mom died when I was in 10th grade and my dad lost his job soon after."

He added that he understood what it's like when a family is focused on, "Am I going to have a job?"

They were brief mentions, but it's a family life that stands in stark contrast to Romney's wealthy background.

During the roundtable, one of the parents, Christine Godeaux told Pawlenty she needed to hear more from Romney. In an almost pleading tone she told him because "he's not Obama" is good enough for her, butnot enough to make others vote for the former Massachusetts governor, especially those "afraid of change."

"I want to know specifically what his plan is," Godeaux said, adding she wanted to know what Romney was going to do on day one.

ABC News asked Godeaux after if she had seen Romney's series of "On Day One" ads and she said she had, but it wasn't enough detail for her.

Pawlenty described his tax plan briefly, but said he didn't want the crowd's "eyes to glaze over" before the hockey fan took to the ice for a quick spin. He spent much of his time in the rink coaching some children on ways to stop and giving tips.

ABC News asked Pawlenty afterwards if he agreed with Godeaux that Romney needed to give more.

"His message is a strong message and his story is a good story," Pawlenty said. "There are certainly voters who want a lot more detail and there's different ways they can get it. Got to strike that balance when you are only given 30 seconds to respond in media interviews or a brief time to speak on TV shows, but for those who are interested in more detail there are ways to do that and I think the campaign is, particularly when they get into debates, will have an opportunity to get into even more."

Democrats have consistently accused Romney of not giving enough details about any of his policies throughout the campaign.

Godeaux also told Pawlenty she was upset more GOP leaders didn't stand up for Chick-Fil-A when its CEO Dan Cathy disavowed same sex marriage.

Godeaux said she was horrified that the only public official she could thank was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Michael Bloomberg," she said incredulously.

Bloomberg said this week that mayors of other cities, including Chicago's Rahm Emanuel and Boston's Tom Menino, were wrong to discourage franchises from opening there.

"I was just really wishing that someone in the Republican Party would have stepped forward," Godeaux said. "There just seems to be this real lack of leadership and I'm just hopeful and praying that if Gov. Romney does win the election that we'll be allowed to have civil debate and disagree with each other without feeling threatened or penalized."

Pawlenty said he had eaten at the chain for lunch right before, eating waffle fries and chicken strips, and said the reaction to Cathy's stance on the issue was "chilling."

"I mean it's stunning, it is jaw-dropping. And so I think strong people who see this need to stand up and say no we don't do that in the United States," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty is one of the potential vice presidential picks believed to be on the campaign's short list, all of whom know their lives will change dramatically if they are selected to be Romney's running mate in the next month before the Republican National Convention.

With Romney off on the first overseas trip of his campaign, arriving in Israel tonight after a stop in London for the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics, his surrogates were fanning all over battleground states -- Rob Portman stumping in Ohio, Bobby Jindal in Florida, and Marco Rubio in Las Vegas -- in what for some could be were veepstake auditions.

So when will the decision come?

"I don't know," Pawlenty told reporters, with a chuckle, after the two events today in the Raleigh area.

He may not know, but he can describe whom Romney is looking for, although he wouldn't go into any other details, including whether he hasspoken to veep vetter and longtime Romney aide Beth Myers.

"We have a policy of not talking about the VP process, details, times, schedules, all that we don't get into that," he said.

At first he answered, "a good one."

"He speaks about this a lot because he gets asked about it a lot," Pawlenty said, referring to attributes of Romney's eventual number two. "He says ... whoever he picks has to be ready to be president of the United States in an unfortunate event something happens to the president. That's important, so there's a requisite set of experiences and abilities and judgments and wisdom that comes with a readiness to be president, so he's looking presumably looking for that."

The former Minnesota governor added that everything else that goes into a running mate is a "stew."

"A little this, a little that and you add it all together and what make sense not just for the campaign but what makes sense for the country," Pawlenty said.

This is the second time Pawlenty has been under this type of scrutiny.

In 2008, he was just one phone call away if John McCain had decided not to go with Sarah Palin.

So what's it like doing this twice?

"Not bad," Pawlenty said. "I've been doing my other stuff. Doing my other work, dealing with family matters, trying to get the garage -- my garage is a mess."

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