Tim Pawlenty Deflects Veep Questions, But Confesses to Admiration for VP Bush

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who was floated by The New York Times and The Drudge Report as  Mitt Romney’s running mate, spent most of an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC today deflecting questions about the matter.

A few highlights, heavily edited in order to show the relentlessness of Ms. Mitchell’s questioning and the skill of Mr. Pawlenty’s deflecting:

MITCHELL [after noting that Mr. Pawlenty was on the shortlist in 08 as well] : How does it feel to be going through this again?

PAWLENTY: Well, that’s a little bit of deja vu, I suppose, to all the speculation, Andrea…But what they are thinking about is this troubled economy and the fact that we’ve got so many of our neighbors and people across our states and across the country who are unemployed or underemployed or have given up work and looking for work. And — and President Obama’s presidency is up for renewal.

MITCHELL: What the governor — what Governor Romney said today to “The National Review” was that in some cases, he looks at people who provide “perspectives and skills that I may not share.” What perspective and skills do you — could you provide that he might not share?

PAWLENTY: Well, we, at the Romney campaign have a policy of not talking about the VP process in — in particular, Andrea. But look, in any team, whether it’s president and vice president, you want to have different ingredients, different dynamics. And one of those dynamics is making sure you have a skill set that complements each other in some ways. There’s other considerations, too. Obviously geography and — and philosophy and abilities and skills and backgrounds.

MITCHELL: Well, some people sort of describe you as a Sam’s Club Republican, that you’ve got working class roots, that you weren’t born to wealth. Is that one aspect that he clearly is lacking, just from biography?

PAWLENTY: Well, there’s — you could go down the list of the speculated people on the VP list and make an argument that they’ve got some attributes or experiences that complement Governor Romney’s in some way.

MITCHELL:  Have you gotten the call?

PAWLENTY: Well,  I’m in contact with Governor Romney from time to time. But this week, I’m focused on some yard work and some business things.

But look, the — the process will unfold in due course. I’m sure Governor Romney and his team will let you all know when — when the announcement is coming. But that’s not something that I can comment on

Admist all the thrust and parry however, there was one telling reveal–when Mr. Pawlenty was asked which veep’s he admired. He said he hadn’t given the question much thought (and indeed, who of us has) but that he did like George H.W. Bush, or at least the way he partnered with Ronald Reagan.

“You know, I haven’t really given that a lot of thought or study, the dynamic or synergies between the vice president and the president in years gone past,” he said.  “I’d want to give that some thought and give you a more thoughtful answer. But just off the cuff, Andrea, I would say if you look at the relationship that Ronald Reagan had with George Bush, H. W. Bush, that seemed to be  healthy and dynamic and constructive relationship. I’m sure there are others. But just off the cuff, that would be one that would be worth further review and study. It seems like they had  a good relationship and a good partnership.”

It is a tough question because there are not a lot of Republican vice presidents that engender happy memories. Dick Cheney is popular with the base, but no president is looking for another Cheney as deputy. Richard Nixon had Spiro Agnew, who was forced to resign, and Gerald Ford, who can never be forgiven for losing to Jimmy Carter. Mr. Ford had Nelson Rockefeller, who has come to symbolize a liberal Republicanism long since held in disdain.

And although GOPers may consider Mr. Reagan a revered figure, and Mr. Bush may bask in some of that glow, for now he is largely held in disdain for his decision to raise taxes, which helped lead to his defeat by  Bill Clinton in 1992.

Full interview is below:

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Tim Pawlenty Deflects Veep Questions, But Confesses to Admiration for VP Bush