We now return to the GOP presidential race, already in progress

Because of the emphasis on Iowa, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty showed on up Fox News Sunday to talk about his campaign, which may be gaining momentum going into the straw poll, being held right next door to his home state.

But the bigger question I have is: how come it seems like only Pawlenty gets on these Sunday shows?

The supposed front-runner, Mitt Romney, hasn't been on any such shows, or a live television interview of any sort, for an extremely long time. His absence while the debt ceiling story was unfolding was noted by one of his rivals, Jon Huntsman.

Then again, where has Huntsman been? Not on Sunday morning television. If you'll recall, Huntsman got into the race just before 2nd (and last) debate was held in June. There's been a lot of informed reporting about his lackluster campaign.

The National Journal's Beth Reinhard reports that this could be a major week in the former Utah governor's chances:

“It’s too early to say if this is the wrong time for a Huntsman campaign because there is nothing he has espoused in his beliefs or done as a governor that should make him unpalatable to the Republican electorate,’’ said Republican consultant Reed Galen, who is friendly with the Huntsman team. “People are really pissed off and they seem to like candidates like Bachmann who are breathing fire. I think his message will begin to burn through if he can show himself to be substantial and contrast himself with the rest of the folks.’’

Meanwhile, back to T-Paw. The Washington Examiner reports how he's been a little more aggressive in criticizing Romney and his chief nemesis in Iowa, Michelle Bachmann. That's notable, since supposedly his fatal flaw in the campaign season was when he declined to rip on Mitt about "ObaneyCare," a phrase he seems only to have uttered on a previous Fox News Sunday appearance.


People are going to value steady, seasoned leadership," Pawlenty told The Washington Examiner. "Everyone's going to say [Bachmann and Romney] are the ones who are going to go out and grow the conservative movement and win in swing areas. ... Well I actually got elected and reelected in one of the toughest political environments in the country as a conservative."

He advised voters not to support candidates with no executive experience — an indirect swipe at Bachmann — and emphasized that, unlike Romney, he enacted health care reform "the right way."

At a Christian Music festival in West Des Moines, though, it was clear Pawlenty still has work to do when he was introduced as someone who "most of you, I would think, have at least heard of." Unfazed, Pawlenty encouraged the two dozen or so spectators to attend the straw poll before reciting a short Bible passage.

Bachmann had appeared on the same stage the night before, but to a crowd five times the size of Pawlenty's.

"We want a sustainable star, not a shooting star," Pawlenty said. "People who are usually the loudest or the most entertaining, and are the most outrageous, are interesting for a month or two, and then they usually fade."

On Fox on Sunday, Pawlenty kept up the criticism of Bachmann:

And as the Congresswoman Bachmann or any other candidate in this race, I think one of the minimum prerequisites for being the next president of the United States in these most challenging of times is to have had executive experience, that you've run a large enterprise with a public component to it and achieved results. I have done that.

And my comments of her record, if you just looked at her record in congress, you know there's great comments, and you know, offering amendments that didn't pass and the like, but as to these things that we're concerned about — cutting government spending, getting health care done the right way — not talking about it, but actually doing these things, accomplishing these things, getting results. I said her record is nonexistent. That's not disputable, that's a matter of fact.

WALLACE: Well, I mean she was in the minority. She couldn't defeat Obamacare by herself?

PAWLENTY: Well, we are all held to our results. And so whether you have talked about it, whether you have given it rhetoric, is one of the themes I think in this race is going to be — after Barack Obama, he came through Iowa and other places, gave these soaring speeches, these incredible comments, people here, the Democrats brought it in Iowa. And then catapulted him to the presidency of the United States.

And we now know he wasn't prepared for the job. He hadn't run anything. He hadn't done anything. And his record of results are essentially nonexistent. We don't want to repeat that mistake.

WALLACE: Well, I have to ask you, are you comparing Bachmann to Obama in terms of not being prepared for the job?

PAWLENTY: Well, again, whether it's any candidate, I don't think it's unreasonable or inflammatory or even disputable to say that the next president of the United States should have executive experience with results running a large enterprise. I have that kind of experience. It's one of the strengths I bring to the race.

Mitt Romney is going to make the most of the S&P downgrade of the American government's credit worthiness today in New Hampshire, going after the Obama administration. Then again, despite his reputation as being "good on the economy," critics say that his record on job creation in Massachusetts and at Bain Capital is hardly anything to boast about.

Quick question:

What ever happened to the GOP Presidential contest of 2012?

Yes, I know candidates are out campaigning and fundraising. In fact CL saw Tim Pawlenty with our own eyes and ears last Tuesday at the Buddy Brew coffee house.

But the fact is the best way to check out the whole slate of candidates is to watch them in action, via a debate. But there hasn't been one for nearly two full months (June 13). However, that changes this week - with a Fox News debate Thursday night, followed by the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday.


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