Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came out swinging at the Republican National Convention Wednesday evening, listing off what he called one bad decision after another by President Barack Obama, from the health care overhaul to choosing Joe Biden as his vice president.
Pawlenty used much of his high-profile speech at the convention in Tampa, Fla., to tear into the president, mixing humor into his sharp attacks. He drew a polite reception as he approached the podium and some loud applause for his one-liners.
"Barack Obama is the first president to create more excuses than jobs," Pawlenty said.
He called Obama the "tattoo president," saying "it seemed cool when we were young," but later on didn't look so good.
"But the worst part is you're going to have to explain it to your kids," he said.
Referring to the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, N.C., Pawlenty said the president will ask Americans for "more time and more money."
"Well, sorry Mr. President you're out of time and we're out of money," he said.
Pawlenty wrapped the roughly five-minute string of one-liner attacks by saying Obama has failed the country.
"But look, it's understandable. A lot of people fail at their first job."
Pawlenty went on to highlight his humble South St. Paul roots and to promote GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a "leader who's produced results," and "made a success out of failing companies."
Also speaking last night was Romney's running-mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. The Republican National Convention wraps up tonight with a speech from Romney.
Since ending his own presidential campaign a little more than a year ago, Pawlenty has been a top surrogate for Romney. He has appeared on TV news programs and has traveled the nation, slamming Obama and promoting his former rival for the GOP's nomination.
In addition to staying on message, Republican observers said Pawlenty, with his blue-collar background, can help Romney build a bridge to working-class Americans.
Even though Pawlenty's presidential campaign failed to catch fire and he has now twice been passed over as a vice presidential candidate, top Republicans say he plays an important role in national Republican politics.
"Gov. Pawlenty, I think, continues to be one of the most effective spokespersons not just for the Romney campaign but for the Republican Party and for the ideals and principles that we stand for," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the hottest tickets in GOP politics, speaking briefly about Pawlenty following an appearance before the Minnesota delegation.
"In terms of his effectiveness as a speaker, as a deliverer of a message, I mean we need him," Rubio said. "We need him to continue to stay involved and engaged."
Convention delegate Jeremy Litster from Boise, Idaho thinks Pawlenty is great, trustworthy and really smart.
"I feel like Pawlenty's going to have a big spot in the administration after Romney wins," Litster said.
But if Romney loses and Republicans have to regroup for 2016, Litster said as good as Pawlenty is, he is not a natural presidential front-runner. He said Pawlenty just does not stack up against a Rubio or Chris Christie.
"He's not a rock star. He's not one of the celebrities of the Republican Party and I don't think he could be," Lister said. "I don't think he's got that personality where people are just going to flock to him."
If a position in a Romney administration does not become available to Pawlenty he could pursue a career in business. He's already on the boards of several companies.
As for politics, beyond speculation about a second attempt for president, some Republicans think Pawlenty should take on first-term DFL Sen. Al Franken who is up for re-election in 2014.