Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty visits Iowa State Fair

In the top photo, Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey (a Republican) walks/talks with Pawlenty as the two stroll down the Grand Concourse of the Iowa State Fair. 

The bottom photo shows the duo at the grill in the Iowa Pork Producers stand at the Iowa State Fair.  This is a rite of passage for political candidates.  U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was manning the same grill about 45 minutes later.  Harkin, who is not seeking reelection and didn’t really “broadcast” his events on the fairgrouds this year, chatted and flipped chops for about 20 minutes before pouring water for people who’d paid for a pork chop dinner and were sitting under the Pork Producers tent.

Pawlenty chatted with me briefly after he had donned an apron and the preparations were being made for his State Fair grilling experience.

He wisely didn’t declare a winner in the Iowa State Fair versus the Minnesota State Fair competition. 

“My first impression is this is a fabulous state fair and I think Iowa and Minnesota have two of the best state fairs in the country,” Pawlenty said, “so we’re proud of both.”

I asked him about the results of this past week’s primaries.

“The way I look at it is there’s a little bit of a mixed story.  Different states had a little different results, but each state is different.  It has its own culture and tradition, it’s own perspective on the direction of the party.

“But I think the consistent theme is the Republican Party remains a conservative party and you’ve got people who are very concerned about the direction of their states who have stepped forward and it’s good to get these primaries…done so that we can focus on the real battle which is growing jobs and growing the economy and hopefully getting Republicans back in control in the Iowa legislature and Minnesota and elsewhere.”

As Pawlenty stepped toward the high heat of the charcoal grills, I stepped to the side and asked one of the pork producers who’s been working the grill if he’d given up his post reluctantly or with gusto. “It’s all right!” said the pork producer, who is from Cass County, Iowa, and stood aside as Pawlenty manned a spatula.  “I don’t have to do it, and I can get cool.”