Ambition Carries Pawlenty to VP Short List

But critics say his eye on moving up has hurt his Minnesota reign
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2008 8:48 AM CDT
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty visits the Minnesota campaign headquarters of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, July 10, 2008.    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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(Newser) – Tim Pawlenty grew up in the blue-collar stockyards of south St. Paul, but through ambition and charm he’s climbed his way to the top office in Minnesota—and the top tier of John McCain’s VP short list. But critics say that ambition could prove his undoing, the New York Times reports. Pawlenty’s obvious eye toward higher office has hurt his administration by making it too cautious, they argue.

Pawlenty vetoed 34 bills from the Democratic legislature, the most in the annals of post-war Minnesota. Some even say he shed his mullet for the national spotlight. “He’s done popular stuff, easy stuff, symbolic stuff,” said one former opponent. “What you find here is an unremarkable record.” Pawlenty’s backers disagree. “Is he ambitious? Yes,” said his chief of staff. “Does that ambition…cause him to do things not within his values? No.”