Tim Pawlenty is National Review's cover boy

Former Governor Hockey Puck?
Former Governor Hockey Puck?

National Review, the gold standard of conservative opinion magazines, features Tim Pawlenty on its March 7 cover -- in skates and a green T-Paw jersey.

"Pawlenty's Shot: The former Minnesota governor is a strong contender" the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, NR declares.

But in an excerpt posted online, senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru hardly offers a ringing endorsement. He makes it sound as though Pawlenty's chief asset is that he isn't Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin:

"As Pawlenty prepares to run for the Republican nomination for president, his main problem is simple: Most Americans have never heard of him. Republicans tend to prefer known commodities: Every winner of the Republican nomination in the last 70 years had a national reputation a year before the primaries. The Courage to Stand is not selling well. Yet Pawlenty may just be the Republicans' strongest presidential candidate for 2012. Compared with his competitors, he is either more conservative, more electable, or both."

Tim Pawlenty is National Review's cover boy

The "more conservative" tag ought to bring a smile to Pawlenty's face. He's been hawking his book hard at conservative Christian bookstores, advocating that gays go back in the closet, and demands that Congress not raise the national debt ceiling. He's even been invited to keynote a Tea Party Patriots summit in Arizona next week. Maybe his base strategy is working.

On the other hand, he got shellacked at CPAC.

Then there's the question of whether this love from National Review even matters. NR endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008, so while the T-Paw cover story is great publicity for Pawlenty -- and god knows he needs it -- it hardly assures success.

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