Tim Pawlenty: the Jeb Bush candidate? Plus: Mitt’s announce, and Palin-Bachman gal-fight?


All the lil' Jebbies love TPaw, TPaw...

Looks like the Bushies seem to have found their candidate.

First heard this from Peter Schorsch on Twitter, but now the Miami Herald has confirmed that lots of “Jeb Bush people” are joining Team TPaw:

Phil Handy will serve as Pawlenty”s Florida state chairman, as well as a national finance co-chair. Handy was Bush’s gubernatorial campaign state chairman in 1994 and 1998 and a co-chairman in 2002. Until January 2007, he served for six years as chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, appointed by Bush. Handy in 2008 was John McCain’s Florida chairman and national co-chair.

Former Bush aide Justin Sayfie will serve as a Florida co-chair of Pawlenty’s campaign. Sayfie was a senior policy advisor, spokesman and speechwriter for Bush and is the founder of the web aggregator, Sayfie Review.

Pawlenty already had longtime Bush family fundraiser Ann Herberger as the campaign’s national senior finance advisor and Gretchen Picotte as the Florida finance director. Picotte was on Gov. Rick Scott’s fundraising team. During the 2008 election, she served as Florida finance director for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential committee. She also worked for McCain 2008.

If I were to read this cynically, the Bushies are getting behind the guy they think is least likely to seriously impact Jeb’s plans to run for president in 2016. That’s if I were to read it cynically.

Now, if TPaw could just get that whole “Iraq”, “Iran” thing straight, he’d be all set:

BTW, TPaw has finally been pinned down on vouchercare: he’d sign it as president. Pawlenty yesterday finally told reporters who have been trying to corner him on the issue for at least a week:

“First of all, I applaud Congressman Ryan for his courage and his leadership in putting his plan forward. At least he has a plan. President Obama doesn’t have a plan. The Democrats don’t have a plan. And I really applaud his leadership and his courage in putting a plan on the table. Number two, we will have our own plan; it will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan’s plan, but it will have some differences, one of which will be we’ll address Social Security. He chose not to; we are addressing Social Security. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also. So we’ll have our own plan. But if I can’t have my own plan — as president, I’ll have my own plan – if I can’t have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan’s plan, of course I would sign it.”

Still, he’s trying to keep at least some distance from Ryan’s — or at this point, the entire Republican Party’s — toxic budget:

As Pawlenty said yesterday in Washington and reiterated today in New Hampshire, he is planning to release his own budget proposal, with key differences from Ryan’s plan on how to handle Medicare, sometime in the coming months.

Too late, buddy. You’re locked in. And that leaves only one major candidate not publicly wedded to ending Medicare, and it’s the Mittster.

Speaking of the putative frontrunner, Mitt Romney will make his formal announcement for president on June 2nd from New Hampshire. He’s in Iowa today, putting together his leadership team, apparently to compete, if lightly, in the state. Romney would probably just as soon skip the right wing Christian cauldron of the Iowa caucuses, but doing so would piss people off, so he’s going to have to at least have a presence.

Rick Santorum (who’d prefer, I think, to be known as “God’s candidate,” will make his announcement June 6th from near the place where his father worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines.

And official tea party “white queen” Michele Bachmann says she will announce her intentions from Waterloo, Iowa sometime that month as well (looking glass placement TBD.)

If I had to guess, I’d say Bachmann is more likely “in” than “out.” Plus, she doesn’t have an ongoing contract with Fox News, so you know… she’s actually available to run for president.

Meanwhile, could there be tension brewing between Camp Palin and Camp Bachman? Tantalizing clues from Politico:

“Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are nominally allies, two maverick conservative women who are among the GOP’s brightest stars … Already, their interests are coming into conflict as Palin makes moves designed to reclaim some of the media sparkle she’s ceded to Bachmann during the spring … [E]ach camp views the other with a level of suspicion, with some of Palin’s supporters seeing Bachmann as a B-list version of their icon, and some in Bachmann’s camp regarding Palin as a short-timer without Bachmann’s record or tenure … Palin ‘doesn’t seem like a credible candidate,’ said Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson, who will reportedly serve as Bachmann’s political director in the state. He said he thought Bachmann would beat Palin there head-to-head if need be. ‘She has not made any inroads at all to people in Iowa.’”

If there is tension there, it’s clearly not because both women are going to run for president. The simpler read: each has what the other wants. Bachmann wants Palin’s media shine, and to be the top gal of the tea party (plus the book deals, Fox News gig and the cash, to be sure.) Palin probably covets Palin’s potential to wield actual political power, and to be taken … ahem … seriously as a presidential candidate. Palin surely sees a Bachman presidential bid as having the potential to steal the spotlight clean away from her, and so … blam! Publicity-generating bus tour!

This one’s gonna require popcorn.

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