By Mark Willen, Senior Political Editor July 25, 2008 With John McCain getting closer to picking a vice presidential nominee, speculation is focusing on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in part because of a comment McCain made earlier this week in which he told supporters they were "really going to like" Pawlenty. Was that a slip? Or a clever attempt to throw everyone off guard. Either way, it's worth looking at what Pawlenty offers. As we noted in our slideshow on prospective running mates, the 47-year-old governor is a rising star in the Republican Party and an effective advocate for GOP proposals from taxes to immigration control. He emphasizes working family issues -- education costs, health care, jobs and crime. Plus he was an early backer of McCain and has raised a lot of money for him -- $500,000, by one count. He is also the national co-chairman of McCain's campaign. Pawlenty doesn't offer any Washington experience, but that could actually be a plus, and McCain has plenty of his own. His youth and vigor could help McCain on the age issue. He's an up-from-the-bootstraps type who was the only child in his family to graduate from college. Plus he is unblemished by even the hint of a scandal. He'd help in Minnesota, a swing state, though there is no guarantee he'd clinch it for McCain. Pawlenty has been elected twice, but won his second term two years ago by just 1 percentage point. Republicans say Pawlenty has a good record working across the aisle in Minnesota, but Democrats have a somewhat different view. Some acknowledge that he was more willing to negotiate this year than last, but others have nicknamed him Governor No for his record-setting 34 vetoes this year. One in particular might be a problem -- he blocked a bill that would have helped homeowners facing foreclosure. He also vetoed a bill raising the minimum wage. Many of his vetoes were aimed at curbing state spending, which will win him support from fiscal hawks. His biggest drawbacks: He's unknown on the national scene, isn't closely associated with social issues that could fire up the GOP base and doesn't have any particular economic expertise, which is one thing that McCain sorely needs.