Is Tim Pawlenty's pastor his problem?

Published: Saturday, Oct. 10 2015 1:42 a.m. MDT

Tim Pawlenty is steadily slipping in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showing the former Minnesota governor favored by 3 percent of Republicans is only the latest in a long string of bad news for the candidate.

Pawlenty's problems with conservative voters — especially in the crucial early caucus state of Iowa — may actually stem from his relationship with his pastor, according to a new McKay Coppins piece at The Daily Beast.

"Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a political reporter for leading evangelical magazine Christianity Today, says Pawlenty has failed to capture the imaginations of the Christian right because he lacks a certain, well, evangelical fervor. 'You just can't see Tim Pawlenty holding a tent revival,' she says. And as right-wing Christians gear up to try to defeat a well-defined — if somewhat exaggerated — foe in President Obama, many want a combative hero they can rally around, not just tolerate. The problem: Pawlenty comes off like a Good Samaritan at a time when the religious right wants fire and brimstone."

The article subsequently posits causal linkage between Pawlenty's "Good Samaritan" modus operandi and his longtime minister, Rev. Leith Anderson.

Much of the presidential support Pawlenty has lost in recent weeks is because of a surging fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann. An article by Dan Balz published Tuesday in the Washington Post uses an Iowa pro-marriage pledge to illuminate how the emphasis of Pawlenty's campaign is rapidly shifting from trying to be the Romney alternative to an attempt at fending off Bachmann.

"Michele Bachmann was the first to say she would sign it. Mitt Romney has decided not to. Tim Pawlenty hasn't announced his decision. That tells you something important about the battle for the Republican presidential nomination and the box in which Pawlenty now finds himself. Two months ago, he believed he was in a strong position to break out and become the principal alternative to front-runner Romney. Today he is trying to figure out how to prevent Bachmann from blocking his path."

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