Gov. Tim Pawlenty rolls out his campaign today with an impressive video and a new slogan: “A Time for Truth.” Pawlenty claims in the video that he’ll speak the hard truths that Americans need to hear, even though they might not be politically palatable.
But from a political standpoint, this could turn out to be a savvy move. The concern about Pawlenty is whether he can generate enough momentum to position himself as a credible alternative to Romney. The video is smart because it’s actually a duel attack on Romney and President Obama, both known for their politicking and meticulous strategizing. Many conservatives view Romney has a phony, and this video could help Pawlenty position himself as the one candid politician in the race.
Fiscal conservatives are desperately seeking someone to fill the void that has been left by Mitch Daniels, and Pawlenty’s video also shows that he’s interested in fighting for that slot. The video’s focus is on economic issues, and social/foreign policy issues don’t even make a cameo. His slogan also echoes the theme of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget town halls, where the congressman is blunt about our deficit crisis.
But there’s also a potential downside for this new slogan. Pawlenty tends to come off as a little hokey, which has made it difficult for him to energize the conservative base. This perception isn’t something that he has a lot of control over, and it could end up getting in the way of his message. “A Time for Truth” has the potential to come off as a bold and honest like Ryan’s town hall campaigns, but it could also end up being perceived as a goofy campaign gimmick, like Sen. John McCain’s “straight-talk express.”