Could Pawlenty pull off a "Kirk Gibson" tonight?

Wounded but not out, Tim Pawlenty needs a homerun shot in the lights to dazzle the fans and drag his limping campaign around the bases.  Many have written him off.  Too monotonous.  Too humdrum. However, to beat Barack Obama in 2012 the GOP doesn’t need flash; Americans saw enough of that in his campaign in 2008.  The GOP needs substance.  Someone who can go toe to toe in a debate without tripping up.  Someone who shows the respect of Bob Dole without the stammering. Someone who shows the confidence of George W. Bush without the awkward pauses with stares into middle-space. It would be nice to think someone who also shows the wit and timing of Reagan, but that is a stretch for Pawlenty.

The GOP also needs electoral college votes, something that Minnesota has.  Bring over neighbors Iowa and Wisconsin and that is twenty-seven of them.  And because the electoral college is a closed system, that is really a 54 vote “swing,” since the Democrats took all three in 2008.  A former governor of Minnesota could deliver these prizes, however a congresswoman from the same state who as recently as 2008 barely won her own district might not be able to.

Pawlenty has not and most likely will not offend many people, which to some red meat conservatives might be a hindrance but to the median-voter soccer mom, a trait of an acceptable alternative to Obama.  He is a solid conservative, which is impressive coming from a traditional democratic state. Also, he is proven.  Look back at the list of Republican presidents over the past half-century. They were all proven.  Two-term governors, vice-presidents and commanders of allied forces. GOP voters like proven.  Rick Perry is also proven, but will the constant ring of “the candidate from Texas” bring back a painful tinnitus from the GWB years?  Mitt Romney is also proven as governor of a deep-blue state and businessman, but he voted for Obamacare before he voted against it and that is a hard reality to accept.

With seemingly impossible odds and future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the mound, can Pawlenty swing for the fence and still connect cleanly?  Here’s hoping, because facing the incumbent  Obama in 2012 will be every bit as hard as facing the incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996.  And those in the GOP dugout look do not look as promising to bring home the trophy as Pawlenty does.