You can go to either of these events without being in Minnesota or California – both will be online. (Though, if you want to attend the DeVore event, you’re going to have to also find a way to channel 1.21 gigawatts into the flux capacitor, which may cost more than the $50 minimum donation.)
In Pawlenty’s case, the two-term governor is attempting to build a national base in advance of his 2012 run for the White House. For people nosing around and still feeling out the contenders, it’s a low barrier of entry. With the first primaries still more than 20 months away, Pawlenty wisely doesn’t want to burn out his activists; at the same time he wants to start building a list of engaged supporters. Some of his likely primary opponents (like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and maybe Sarah Palin) already have exposure and campaign infrastructure from 2008. The town hall could help Pawlenty catch up and – maybe even more important – allows him to build the perception of his candidacy being more firmly rooted in ideas than personality.
DeVore is trying to broaden his base, too – and continue extending his brand as one of the leaders among Republicans in the use of online tactics. Thus far in the primary, DeVore has been the Martin Short of the Three Amigos running for the Republican nomination. (If you’re wondering, Steve Martin was the best Amigo, followed closely by Chevy Chase. Barbara Boxer is already El Guapo.) The virtual pizza party may not put him on the Republican ticket to face Boxer in 2010, but it’s a good idea – one that could help other Republicans in 2010 or even DeVore himself in a future race. After all, winning campaigns aren’t the only ones with good ideas.