John McCain is visiting Minnesota this evening, holding a “town hall event” in St. Paul, not terribly far from where he’ll be again when the GOP holds its convention come September. The trip has already stirred up talk of whether the state’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, might become McCain’s pick as running mate.

It’s not idle chatter–rumors have flown for months, not least because Republicans say Minnesota (which hasn’t gone for the GOP in a presidential race in decades) might be in play this time around. Moreover, Pawlenty has notable ties to evangelicals, where (God-o-Meter has oft noted) McCain is considered uncomfortably weak by many in his party.

Raised a Roman Catholic, Pawlenty attends a regionally high-profile megachurch whose pastor, the Rev. Leith Anderson, is president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The 66-year-old organization lists member denominations that read like a Who’s Who of diverse, modern American evangelicalism. The Assemblies of God, among the nation’s oldest Pentecostal denominations, belongs, and so too do the Presbyterian Church in America, a theologically conservative body that broke away from larger Presbyterian churches in the 1970s, and the Salvation Army.

In its April 28 issue, Pawlenty told Human Events, a conservative publication, that he supported the production and use of “clean coal” and nuclear power as environmental priorities: “I am a person of faith. I believe in the Bible, God instructs us to take good care and be good stewards of what He has given us…” Last week, a correspondent at introduced some thoughts about the governor with this headline: “Is Tim Pawlenty the Perfect Evangelical VP Candidate?”  A lengthy and very well-informed commentary on Pawlenty can be found at Chris Cillizza’s splendid politics blog, “The Fix,” at

If nothing else, it’s great publicity for a politician that (like his partisan opposite, Barack Obama) is still in his mid-40s.






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