During his deficit-laden two-and-a-half-year tenure as governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty's boyish affability has been his most formidable
political asset. The 44-year-old Lutheran and U of M graduate has demonstrated a sure intuitive grasp of old-school
Minnesota provincialism that befits the former hockey-playing son of a South St. Paul milk truck driver. He exudes an unpretentious confidence that seems informal but not callow or cavalier. Pawlenty's down-home bona fides and open manner have won him a great deal of slack with the state's press corps along the way. When news of his association with a dubious-seeming telecom venture broke during his first year in office, Pawlenty sat down with the capitol press corps for more than two hours,
simultaneously acknowledging and downplaying his relationship with the firm.
During that sit-down, he volunteered that he had been paid more than $4,000 per month by another telecom executive during his gubernatorial campaign and couldn't prove he'd provided any services in return. Inverting the political adage that cover-ups are more damaging than the original crimes, his ostentatious disclosure quelled another wave of potential scandal like a controlled burn set in the path of a
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