WAVERLY, Iowa — The scene had all the makings of an American Gothic painting from Iowa’s own Grant Wood. A red and white barn served as the backdrop. A cornfield was in the distance. And a politician spoke of making the country great again.
For this loyal Republican crowd, the setting was a familiar one. The opening line was not.
“I’m very thankful for my red-hot smoking wife, the first lady of Minnesota,” said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, pointing to his wife, Mary, who was standing a few feet away.
As the audience roared, she said with a smile: “Who, when they’re turning 50, doesn’t like to be called a red-hot smoking wife?”
With that, the Pawlenty road show began this weekend in Iowa, the place where presidential aspirations are born. It was Mr. Pawlenty’s fifth visit in less than a year, one of many signs that he is working the state as intently as any prospective Republican presidential hopeful.
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