Former two-term Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty visited the Cherokee Town Club in Buckhead last night in what is believed to be his first foray into Georgia in the 2012 Presidential election.
In contrast to the other Presidential events I’ve been to this cycle, this was not a media fest but a low-key event designed to optimize the time the candidate spent one-on-one with donors. Pawlenty acknowledged that some in the audience were “kicking the tires.”
It started out more closely resembling a fundraiser for a well-heeled local or state candidate than a made-for-media spectacle. No announcement was made of Pawlenty’s arrival and he quietly worked the room spending time with attendees and taking photos.
Nick Ayers made a personal introduction including his own reasons for supporting Pawlenty. I doubt that the Campaign Manager makes such a personal speech often, but in this group largely made up of friends and colleagues of Nick’s, it resonated. Ayers announced that the event raised $100k.
Governor Perdue followed Ayers, stating, “I’d trust him with my wallet, I’d trust him with my wife, and I’d trust him with my grandchildren.” and “Tim Pawlenty is no going to embarrass you.”
Pawlenty’s speech, though low-key, had one statewide elected official in the audience saying, “Amen” throughout. After speaking, Pawlenty spent some more time with guests before moving into the private dining room for dinner with the major donors.
The crowd of more than a hundred included traditional Buckhead business types, lobbyists and Capitol denizens, and elected officials with offices on all four floors of the Capitol.
“When Georgians get to know Governor Tim Pawlenty and his outstanding conservative record, I believe they will be incredibly impressed. Today’s visit is only the beginning,” said Tricia Pridemore, Pawlenty’s Georgia Finance Chairman
UPDATE: Lori Geary at WSB interviewed Pawlenty when he was in Atlanta yesterday.