Tim Pawlenty received some attention for a recent video highlighting his tea party bona fides. But as I wrote over at Pundit League, it’s his “Standing with Scott” video that means the most to T-Paw’s nascent campaign for the Presidency.
Unlike his other videos, which mix action-movie trailer style with platitudes about America’s problems and potential, “Standing with Scott” pointedly takes on public sector unions in general and the mess in Wisconsin in particular. The footage of students cluelessly protesting based on their teachers’ instructions along with the direct criticism of the President give the video a clear, policy-driven message while maintaining a broad appeal. It touches on specific issues without going into so much depth that the average viewer would turn away. In that way, it’s a good road map for future messaging.
The video is also significant for who is not featured in it: Tim Pawlenty himself. Outside of a mention at the beginning and a quote at the end, the former Minnesota governor is nowhere to be found. With other videos featuring a heavy dose of T-Paw, the series run the risk of becoming an exercise in glorification. More videos like “Standing with Scott” can counterbalance that.
And the video goes beyond messaging, directing viewers back to a landing page where they can sign up for the Freedom First PAC mailing list. (It would be better if the page included facts about Walker’s position in Wisconsin, but it’s better than nothing.)
Pawlenty’s videos are an attempt to elevate the rhetoric and the urgency of the campaign and position the former Governor as a transformational leader in the mold of Obama. But empty rah-rah speeches ring hollow in the ears of savvy activists. If “Standing with Scott” becomes a first step – and more similar videos follow on other issues as they arise – questions about whether Pawlenty’s “Minnesota nice” personality can play on the Presidential stage may be answered.