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Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Ex-Governor Slips By


TAMPA, Fla.-Tim Pawlenty came close to being a star of the last two Republican conventions.

Close, but not close enough.

On Thursday evening, as Mitt Romney prepared to formally accept his party's nomination for president, Mr. Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, walked through the convention hall, largely unnoticed.

“Who is that guy?” one Republican delegate asked as he walked by. Another woman asked have her picture taken next to him. Another man said he liked what he heard when Mr. Pawlenty visited Alabama as a candidate.

Asked what he would do on behalf of Mr. Romney, Mr. Pawlenty seemed surprised at the question.

“I'm just a volunteer,” he said, “so I've got other stuff I've got to do. So as my schedule allows, I'll go out and do surrogate speaking.”

That's a far cry from what might have been if Mr. Romney had picked him, instead of Representative Paul D. Ryan, to be h is running mate this year. Senator John McCain of Arizona also passed over Mr. Pawlenty in 2008.

The fact that he did not get picked may allow Mr. Pawlenty to be a bit more candid. Asked the chances that Mr. Romney might win Minnesota, he shrugged.

“It remains a state that tilts toward Democrats, but it's not inconceivable that a Republican could win there,” he said. “We have in the past. Not in the presidential recently.”

A few minutes later, a nearby crowd surged around Mr. Ryan as he made his way into a television booth for an evening interview. Mr. Pawlenty answered one more question - and shook another hand - and he was off, into the crowd, largely unnoticed.