Pawlenty on running for president

“I haven’t ruled anything in and I haven’t ruled anything out.  I really don’t know the answer to what I’m going to be doing after I’m done being governor.” — Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on 11/04/09.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty spoke with Iowa reporters by phone late this morning, previewing his appearance this Saturday at the Republican Party of Iowa’s fall fundraising dinner in Des Moines.

Pawlenty, in opening remarks, called yesterday’s election results in Virginia and New Jersey “an affirmation” of the economic messages of Republican Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor-elect and Republican Bob McDonnell, the Virginia Governor-elect.

“When the question got put to the voters of New Jersey and Virginia: ‘What are those things that we can do that make it more likely to grow jobs in our state?’ they turned to the Republican candidate for the answers,” Pawlenty said.

“…In terms of coming to Iowa on Saturday, I very much look forward to it.  Of course Minnesota and Iowa have so much in common.  You can drive across the border and not really tell the difference between the two states.  We share a fondness for many things, including Olie and Lena jokes, by the way, but one thing we share in common are heartland values…that speak to the importance of hard work, of family, of individual responsibility, of having government do the things that it needs to do that are important, but also do it effectively and do it in a limited way and then do those things that are going to encourage job growth and economic activity in the private sector.”

“…There are many, many other issues, but that is at the heart of the matter particularly now in these challenging economic times.” 

Pawlenty opened the conference call to questions.

Lynn Campbell from IowaPolitics.com:  “I would imagine that the reason that C-SPAN is coming to televise the event on Saturday is because of your formation of the Freedom First PAC and your potential to run for president in 2012.  Can you just tell us where you stand with that right now?”

Pawlenty:  “Well, they may be coming for lots of other reasons. We’ve got some great gubernatorial candidates who are going to come and speak and be part of the event and others as well, so I don’t want to be presumptuous to say they are coming for me, but as it relates to the PAC, we launched a national PAC called the Freedom First PAC a few weeks ago.  We’ve got a kind of inaugural event tonight, a kick-off event in Minneapolis which is kind of our first significant event relating to the PAC.  The website of the PAC is at www.TimPawlenty.com.

“And in addition to finishing out my term as governor and serving the people of the Sate of Minnesota over the next year or so, I’m also going to take time to speak to the issues that I think are important for my state and important for the country and also try to speak to ways that I think the Republican Party and our candidates can improve and do better.  

“Obviously, we did great yesterday, but 2006 and 2008 weren’t so hot for us and we need to improve and I’ve learned some lessons here in governing in Minnesota, in a pretty blue state or a pretty liberal state, and, you know, have been elected and reelected as a mainstream conservative and through that I think I’ve learned some insights and some lessons that I think would help the Republican Party do better in other places and nationally and I’m going to share that through the Freedom First PAC.

“And I’m also very concerned by just on what’s taking place in the country and I won’t go through it all, but I’m alarmed by the rate of growth of this federal government.  I’m alarmed by the rate of growth of spending in the federal government.  I’m alarmed by the amount of debt and deficit that they are issuing at levels that are extrordinary by any standard and it’s unsustainable.  It’s reckless. It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop and those of us who are concerned about it need to rise up and fight it.”

Campbell: “Are you running for president?”

Pawlenty:You know, I haven’t made any decisions about what I’m going to do after being governor. You know, again, I finish up my term at the end of 2010.  I’ll make some decisions shortly after that about my future, but I haven’t ruled anything in and I haven’t ruled anything out.  I really don’t know the answer to what I’m going to be doing after I’m done being governor.”

Craig Robinson of TheIowaRepublican.com: “Since you are a neighboring governor to Iowa and I believe that you’ve been in the state during the caucus, what do you think of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation role in selecting president?”

Pawlenty: (laughs) “Well, I think it’s a terrific tradition and, you know, we have caucuses in Minnesota.  They’re not as large or, you know, monitored as the Iowa Caucuses, but I’ve had a chance to experience the Iowa Caucuses a little bit as a surrogate speaker. 

“I think it’s a wonderful demonstration of democracy at the grassroots level.  I think the people of Iowa, you know, take it seriously.  They take time to learn the candidates and their positions. There’s a great fidelity that they attach to the process and I think it’s a terrific and helpful tradition.  I have great respect for it and I think Iowa should retain that status.”  

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.