Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has signaled with the creation of his Freedom First PAC that he has his eye on the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, however, believes that far from making him a credible candidate, the list of Pawlenty's consultants and strategists represents "a who's who of some of the worst Republican scandals of the past decade."
Maddow pointed in particular to Pawlenty senior advisor Terry Nelson, a former deputy chief of staff at the Republican National Committee "known for being the guy in charge when the infamous New England phone-jamming case went down."
That dirty tricks maneuver sabotaged the Democrats' get-out-the-vote operation during the 2002 New Hampshire election and helped elect Republican John Sununu to the Senate. Nelson was the direct supervisor of RNC regional director James Tobin, who was convicted for his role in the case.
Maddow went on to describe how Nelson then left the RNC to beoame a media consultant, hired an advisor to the Swiftboat Veterans, and was behind the notorious race-baiting "Harold, call me" ad that helped defeat the 2006 senatorial campaign of Democrat Harold Ford but was condemned even by many Republicans.
Pawlenty has also hired former White House political director Sara Taylor, who became notorious in 2007 for her role in the US Attorney scandal and her inability to recall anything of significance when called to testify before Congress.
"As the Republican Party searches for meaning in the political minority, as it searches for a path out of the political wilderness, Tim Pawlenty keeps getting credit for being the great hope for moderation, for a saner, more centrist, more credible Republican Party than was represented by the Bush years and its aftermath," Maddow concluded. "But that says a heck of a lot more about the people giving him that credit than it says about him deserving it."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Oct. 1, 2009.