Tim Pawlenty’s book is called Courage to Stand: An American Story and it certainly takes some kind of courage to run for president and then sit down for multiple interviews with a Time Magazine correspondent doing a profile without having come up with an explanation of why you’re running:
And when I ask Pawlenty, during a second interview in Des Moines, Iowa, exactly when he decided he was up to the grand challenge of the presidency, he answers in less than grandiose terms, explaining how he’d set up a political-action committee in 2009. I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage’s harsh toll. “I don’t know,” he replies. “I wish I had a good answer for you on that.” Pawlenty says it is not an idea that crossed his mind 15 or 20 years ago but that as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and “go make some money and play hockey and drink beer.” He adds that he almost didn’t run at all. “Mary and I talked about this at length, and many times, and it was a close call,” he says, mentioning his wife of 24 years. He adds with a laugh, “It could have gone the other way for all the reasons you’re suggesting.”
What kind of answer is that? If Pawlenty didn’t want to make money, play hockey, and drink beer he had any number of options available. He could be doing charity work in Africa. He could found a charter school. He could have run for re-election as Governor of Minnesota. But he decided to step aside even though he wasn’t term limited in order to take on an incumbent President of the United States. And he seems like the kind of guy who could win. But “I seemed like the kind of guy who could win” isn’t a very good reason for running.