During a taping of Piers Morgan Tonight set to air Tuesday night, the talk show host remarked on Pawlenty’s low standing in early polls. He asked if Pawlenty would consider being real estate tycoon Donald Trump’s No. 2 on a ticket. The former governor laughed and responded, “I’m running for president.”

Spokesman Alex Conant says the quote was taken out of context. He says a formal announcement by Pawlenty about running for president would come later this spring. Morgan’s PR representative didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment sent Tuesday night.

Tim Pawlenty

It takes a certain kind of man to smirk for official pictures. I believe they're called, "creeps."

The quote was not taken out of context. Pawlenty said what everyone following politics knows, that he’s running for president. As someone who reads a lot about politics, I get accustomed to a lot of the cliches and I have to say that erroneous “out of context” complaints are a big pet peeve of mine. They are a catch-all for pretty much every time a politician makes a verbal mistake of any kind. This quote was perfectly in context–an out of context comment would have been if T-Paw had said, “I’ve never said I’m a shifty politician,” and an outlet quoted him admitting to being a shifty politician (as if we need the quote to know that). Something is out of context if a critical part of what a person is saying is lost in the quote–that is not the case with Pawlenty here.

I don’t really begrudge Pawlenty his second announcement. I mean, there are at least two major announcements that every presidential candidate has to make–announcing an exploratory committee and announcing the actual candidacy. For nearly all of them, there’s a third one, alternately “I’m ending my campaign” for the people who were never in it or have decent equanimity, or “I’m suspending my campaign” for the people who are bitter about it and choose some measure of denial–because they could always start it up again! (Bet you a nickel that Pawlenty’s a “suspend” man after losing to Bachmann and Huckabee in Iowa, and then to Romney in New Hampshire.) In any event, Pawlenty wants to have another media event when he Formally Announces His Candidacy, an event likely to be ignored by everyone aside from political junkies. On the other hand, an accidental announcement (or even an “accidental announcement,” if you know what I mean) is the exact sort of thing that might actually catch some attention–from the media and virally on the web. I can’t think of it ever having happened before. Pawlenty could sheepishly admit that he hadn’t meant to announce that he was running, but why not? And then cue the spiel. What a first impression! Everybody would have a good laugh, the story would probably even get some media attention, and it’s the sort of thing that might just stick. “Oh, d’ya hear about the guy who accidentally ran for president?” Sure, it would have to be self-deprecating, but it could have been serendipitous. Pawlenty could have gotten 10x the attention his planned announcement would have gotten, and it would have been in the form of something funny and memorable instead of something dull. And how does our would-be president react to this? Pawlenty’s reaction seems to have been pure panic–he wants to follow all the rules, and that means An Announcement In St. Paul In Front Of The Statehouse With Everyone, and if he looks like a parsing, conventional politician in the process, so be it. That’s the sort of imaginative thinking that gets you…6% in the polls.

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  1. Schu says:

    Makes me wonder how much they paid Trump to lead out with the “Birther ” crap and making everyone else look sane. The more he talks and looks insane the more the others look better to the average voter.

  2. Moneysanity says:

    Well if his strategy is too accidentally announce and have it go viral, then I would say it’s working.

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