Pawlenty Gains Veep Traction, But Paulites May Have A Plan

Pawlenty campaigns in Iowa last year.

More and more discussion centers on Tim Pawlenty becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate.

As Capitol Chatter reported last month (, the former Minnesota governor gradually has changed his tune about whether he is interested.

And at the same time, there are reports that Ron Paul supporters could try to decide who the Republican vice presidential candidate will be.

Pawlenty said last August as soon as he left the presidential race that he was not interested in being vice president. He kept repeating that, including telling Minnesota reporters that he already went through that with John McCain’s campaign four years ago and did not want to do it again.

But more recently people have noticed a softening of his comments.

Now, when asked, he more often than not says that is not something the campaign discusses, but adds anyone “would be honored to serve.” Lately, he adds “including me.”

Today, nationally known political scientist Larry Sabato puts Pawlenty in the No. 2 race for vice president, behind U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and just ahead of U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Sabato, who teaches at the University of Virginia, says Pawlenty’s pluses include that he has governor experience and he is a vetted and safe candidate. He said a Romney-Pawlenty effort would be a “vanilla ticket.”

Pawlenty’s downsides include that he probably cannot carry Minnesota and he “bombed” as a presidential candidate, Sabato wrote on his blog.

But while Pawlenty’s name is rising in some circles, the Huffington Post is reporting that Paul, a Texas congressman, could be nominated for vice president at the GOP national convention and spoil Romney’s wish.

Paul loyalists control delegations from Minnesota, Iowa and Maine and have a significant presence in people other states are sending to the convention.

“Such a move would transform a symbolic procedure that has taken mere minutes in the past several conventions into a chaotic and time-consuming spectacle that could eat up the better portion of a day,” the Post reports. “Not only would such a floor fight step all over the message of party unity and strength that the Romney campaign hopes to drive through the convention, it would also open the door for alternatives to Romney’s choice to gain momentum and further drive the process off the rails.”