Vice President Pawlenty? Questions keep comingLAKE CITY — Small business owner Nathan Keech believes the speech he witnessed here Wednesday came from the country’s next vice president.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
LAKE CITY — Small business owner Nathan Keech believes the speech he witnessed here Wednesday came from the country’s next vice president.
“I believe he will and I hope he will” become U.S. Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Keech said.
The speaker, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, casually brushed aside burgeoning news reports that have positioned him as the front-runner on McCain’s short list of vice presidential candidates.
“I feel honored to have my named mentioned,” he said of the reports after a meeting with members of the Lake City Better Futures group.
In recent weeks, the Republican governor has been featured prominently in news reports about McCain’s campaign. A lengthy Times of London profile spotlighting Pawlenty as McCain’s choice has circulated the globe.
On Wednesday, Pawlenty maintained the mantra that he wants to focus on his work as governor. As to whether he believes his name is being considered by the presumptive GOP endorsee, Pawlenty said he has seen nothing to support that.
“I have no indication of that,”said Pawlenty, one of McCain’s most trusted surrogates in the campaign. “There’s just speculation — and I think it is just speculation.”
The governor said he has not been asked to submit information for the running mate selection process, nor has he been interviewed as a possible vice presidential candidate.
“I’m focused on my job as governor and very grateful to be governor of the state of Minnesota,” Pawlenty said. “It’s an honor to have that job, and I get up every morning excited about Minnesota and what I can do to help and improve our state.”
Despite Pawlenty’s take on the matter, some in the room wondered if they were indeed in the presence of McCain’s would-be veep.
The governor has done a good job for the state, said John Falvey, a Lake City insurance agent. Still, he couldn’t help but consider the possibilities.
“It would be very nice to say I saw him before he got pulled into that,” Falvey said.
Pawlenty spent nearly 45 minutes speaking with the group of young professionals, cracking the occasional joke and offering suggestions. Asked to speak about leadership, Pawlenty urged young leaders to be grateful and optimistic — but not to use their talents as a bully pulpit.
“Just because you can outmaneuver someone doesn’t mean you should,” he said.
Pawlenty also touched on national themes such as energy initiatives, and reminded members of the group to be grateful that they live in the United States.
“We live in the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world,” he said.
Chris Gulden, president of the Better Futures group, said the governor’s presence at the meeting was “an honor.”
“Obviously, he showed passion in what he talked about,” Gulden said.