Back in Iowa: “What it means, over the next 39 days, I will spend every one of them here in Iowa and working hard to make sure Tim Pawlenty is our next Republican nominee for president.” That’s what Sarah Huckabee Sanders told me inside Tim Pawlenty’s Iowa campaign headquarters in Urbandale. Her name added the “Sanders” part since she worked in Iowa 4 years ago to help her dad go on to win the Iowa Caucuses (she met her husband, Bryan, in Iowa during the last cycle. He worked for Kansas Senator Sam Brownback’s presidential campaign. Although she adds they didn’t start dating until AFTER Brownback’s campaign ended and he came over to Huckabee’s campaign).
Huckabee Sanders will serve as a special advisor. But basically she will focus heavily on Pawlenty’s Republican Party of Iowa Straw Poll efforts. And those efforts could be crucial. Pawlenty has campaigned and invested heavily in Iowa with frequent visits and an all-star ensemble of staff members. But that hasn’t produced a strong showing in the polls yet. He finished 6th in the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll of presidential candidates. Hard to see how a 6th place finish at the straw poll allows him to continue in the race. Does he have to finish in the top 2 or at least top 3 to keep going or risk having the campaign donations dry up?
So why Pawlenty? She said, “Authenticity. He comes from a place most people can identify with, whether it’s his personal story or just who he is as a person, also his executive experience and leadership. We’re at a time where we have seen what great speeches can do for us. And that’s very little.”
I asked Huckabee Sanders what her name brings to the race. She answered with a great line. She said, “I’ve heard Sanders is pretty common all throughout Iowa. I’m hoping that brings all kinds of extra attention.”
So what about the talk about Huckabee supporters that he would change his mind and decide to run for president again after all? His daughter seemed very direct with us that this wasn’t going to happen. She said, “You know. I think he made it pretty clear in his announcement (on his Fox show last month) what his intentions were and so I don’t ever pretend to speak for my dad. I learned a long time ago when I was very young, not to try to interpret anything for him. But I think his intentions were very clear on his show on his announcement.”