Pawlenty pitches straw poll voters on his record, electability

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) stressed his record as governor and electability in his pitch to straw poll voters in Ames, Iowa on Saturday afternoon.

Pawlenty directly asked straw poll voters for their support in the waning hours of the straw poll, where Pawlenty desperately needs to finish well, and where voting ends at 4 p.m. CST/ 5 p.m. EST.

The Minnesotan drew on his record as governor, looking to contrast himself his biggest rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

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"As you know and as you've seen with Barack Obama, just saying the words isn't enough," Pawlenty said. "I don't just talk about it, I get the job done."

While Pawlenty made no mention of Bachmann, his accomplishments as governor have been a major dividing point between himself and the Tea Party congresswoman. Pawlenty accuses Bachmann of having no substantial record; she says she's been a loyal opponent of President Obama, whose record she's said resembles Pawlenty's.

Pawlenty is competing against Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) for a top-tier finish at the straw poll; each is hoping a win would serve as a boon for their respective campaigns.

Pawlenty made electability an issue in his speech to straw poll voters, suggesting that the ability of a Republican candidate to carry swing states and win the election was a key part of his appeal. Again, while avoiding mention of Bachmann, Paul, or any of the other candidates, the implicit message from Pawlenty is that his foes at the straw poll aren't able to beat President Obama in 2012.

"We need to not just preach to the choir and make sure we have candidates who can win in other states … I got elected and got reelected in one of the most difficult political states for Republicans, Minnesota," he said, adding that he expected to carry those states again in a head-to-head matchup against Obama.