Rand Paul makes first trip to Iowa

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, is in Iowa today — a trip that is nearly four years after his father’s first trip to Iowa on April 11, 2007. 

During an interview this morning in Ames, I asked him which Paul is going to run for president in 2012?

“We really haven’t talked about it that much, to tell you the truth. I think that the signs I see of his travel and where he’s going and how much he has been going lead me to think he might be interested in running again,” Rand Paul said. “…I’ve told people that the only decision I’ve made is that I wouldn’t run against him…And even if he does, I want to be part of the process in some way.”

Were you to run, how would you avoid the criticism Republicans made of Obama in 2007 & 2008, that he lacked the experience to be president?

“Didn’t see to hurt him, did it?” Rand Paul said, chuckling.  “I think it’s interesting, you know, people want to complain about it, but, you know, Lincoln was elected with two years of experience as a congressman 15 years before he ran for president. Obama, I think, announced he was running 43 days into his term…I don’t know. I think people can make any criticism they want and whether it’s valid or not, I think that’s the winnowing process that goes through a primary and that’s what we decide.  We decide who best can articulate our vision.”

(A note: Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in November of 2004, became a senator in January of 2005 and announced he was running for president in February of 2007.)

You have to be motivated to run.  Do you feel that passion?

“I feel the passion to try to fix the problems in our country before it’s too late…To many who say, ‘Why don’t you just sit on the back bench and when your time has come in 12 or 15 or 20 years, then you come forward?’ I see a shorter time line, not just for me, but I see a shorter time line for the country….There’s no money left…within a decade because we are showing just absolutely no restraint,” Rand Paul said. “…Is it just good for a country to continually spend beyond their means? And I see as it not just a Democrat/Republican problem.  I think Republicans are part of the problem as well…The entitlement program for prescription drugs is bigger than ObamaCare. Republicans are 100 percent against ObamaCare, but the vast majority of them voted for the prescription drug program.”

Paul said his book was an attempt to put the tenants of the Tea Party movement down on paper, and he suggested the Tea Party will play a major role in deciding who the GOP nominates in 2012.

David Fischer, a Republican from Ivy, Iowa, who supported Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential bid, and Fischer wants to see “one of the Pauls” run for president in 2012.

“They have a unique message,” Fischer says. “…They fill a void in the discourse.  There’s a genuine message common to both of them of promoting freedom and shrinking the size and scope of government…and a more rational foreign policy you’ll hear only coming from the Pauls.  That’s something that needs to be heard right now because we don’t have a rational foreign policy right now.”

Fischer, a 43-year-old engineering consultant, is a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee.   He just finished Rand Paul’s book last night and had the senator sign it this morning.  Fischer is one of the small troupe of people guiding Paul through Iowa this weekend.

Paul is holding two book-signing events today in Iowa.  The first is in Ames at the University Book Store on the Iowa State University campus; the second is in metro Des Moines.  Paul was in Iowa City, on the University of Iowa campus last night.  Paul will also speak to Iowa College Republicans late this morning and he’ll meet with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, early this afternoon before headlining an Iowa GOP fundraiser this evening in Des Moines.

Pawlenty on “tiger blood” & “incoherent” Obama foreign policy (AUDIO)

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was a keynote speaker at this evening’s gathering of Iowa College Republicans in Des Moines.  The event opened with a College Republican’s joke about Al Gore, Bill Clinton & Barack Obama winding up at heaven’s door on the same day — the punch-line of which was Obama, saying to God, “I believe, sir, that you’re in my chair.”

Pawlenty, once he started speaking, quickly connected with the crowd with references to Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga.

The moment Pawlenty uttered Charlie Sheen’s name the giggling began. “Now, we may not in this room have ‘tiger blood’ like he does,” Pawlenty began and the crowd laughed. “But we do have something else in common with him. There’s going to be a lot of winning on the Republican side in 2012.”  The crowd clapped; a few cheered.

A few moments later, as Pawlenty told the College Republicans Obama had “duped” their generation in the 2008 election, Pawlenty made a cultural reference to another entertainer with whom the crowd is quite familiar.  “What the younger voters have figured out this is really a broken relationship.  He made soaring promises, set grand expectations. He’s broken those promises.  He’s failed to fulfill the expectations.  If this was a Lady Gaga song, the relationship between the youth vote and Barack Obama would be ‘Bad Romance,'” Pawlenty said, as the crowd began to react, a bit more slowly than they had at the Sheen reference.  “You know what I’m talking about.”  The crowd applauded.

Listen to the entire speech: TPawCollegeRs

Toward the end of his speech, Pawlenty offered a brief critique of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. “We’ve got a president now who has projected uncertainty, delay, equivocation and, in my view, very misguided and confused and incoherent national defense and foreign policy on behalf of this great country,” Pawlenty said.

After the speech, I asked Pawlenty for specific examples of what he considers Obama’s “misguided” foreign policy and Kathie Obradovich of The Des Moines Register followed up by asking what the “Pawlenty Doctrine” might be.  Listen: TPawforeignPolicy

Pawlenty, in answer to my question, cited as examples the way the U.S. handled the crisis in Egypt and the Obama Administration’s decision to junk the anti-missile defense systems planned for Poland and the Czech Republic. “Those are just examples of, I think, an incoherent, uncertain, inexperienced hand on the throttle of our foreign policy,” Pawlenty said. “And it’s not only misguided, it’s dangerous.”

As for the Pawlenty Doctrine, “in general, we need to commit our military only in those circumstances where our vital interests or our security interests are at stake and that there’s a clear plan and that we’re willing to see the plan through to success.  And the rule has to be when the United States goes to war, the United States wins and this idea that we’re going to have unclear goals and subordinate our options to the United Nations and the Arab League is preposterous.”

Iowa delegation reacts to Obama’s speech on Libya

Three of the seven members of Iowa’s congressional delegation emailed me responses to President Obama’s speech last night.  Read them below, in the order they were received.

Braley Responds to President’s Speech on Libya

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement following President Obama’s speech on the conflict in Libya:
 
“I’m concerned, and I know many Americans are concerned, that tonight we didn’t get a clear and accurate accounting from the President on how much this conflict in Libya is going to cost American taxpayers. We’ve got two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and Americans deserve to hear from our President what this third conflict is going to cost us. I look forward to meeting with Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton later this week and hearing their explanation of the costs of this operation and their strategy for moving forward in Libya.”
 
Last week Rep. Braley sent a letter to President Obama asking for a full accounting of the Libyan conflict and the costs to taxpayers. Speaker Boehner sent a similar letter to the President. Rep. Braley has previously called for a full accounting of the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
A copy of Rep. Braley’s letter is available here: http://go.usa.gov/2K2
Below is a statement from Senator Chuck Grassley regarding the President’s speech tonight about U.S. military involvement in Libya.

“I was an early advocate of a no-fly zone.  Today, despite the President’s delay in offering this help, the Libyan opposition has made progress in defending itself against the brutality of Gadhafi, thanks to the strength and capability of U.S. military forces.

“The burden remains on the President to convey how he sees the mission of the United States going forward.  What is the long-term commitment of the United States in supporting the effort that now is NATO led?  If America’s armed forces are put in harm’s way, what is the objective, if not regime change?  How long does President Obama envision our involvement, should Gadhafi hold on?

“It’s unclear when our involvement will end and under what terms.  Debate in our system of government is necessary.  Congress needs to be involved regarding the way that the United States is to continue making a commitment to this military action.  The President needs to speak with the kind of passion that shows that America is credible as a world leader, and the speech didn’t go as far as it should have to do that.”

Harkin Statement on the Situation in Libya

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement on the situation in Libya and the President’s national address this evening.

“It is tragic to see Colonel Gaddafi continuing to ignore the will of his people and continue his brutal crackdown.  Based on those humanitarian atrocities, I was supportive of the initial UN-backed military strikes.  But with the U.S. ongoing military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have concerns about an open-ended engagement in Libya. 

“Tonight, President Obama rightly addressed a skeptical public about this mission.  I believe that while there is merit in handing over operations to NATO, ultimately, a political solution is needed to end the conflict in Libya. 

“As we move toward that goal, I would like to commend and thank all of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been carrying out this operation.” 

Cain & Bolton speak at King’s conference in Des Moines (audio)

Herman Cain (photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, www.hereiniowa.com)

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain & John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, were the fourth and fifth Republicans who have said they’re pondering a presidential campaign to speak at Congressman King’s Conservative Principles Conference this afternoon.

Cain got a huge response when he said “stupid people are running the country. Listen to the entire speech: CainMarch26

Bolton, as you may suspect, focused entirely on foreign policy, calling Obama the first “post-American president.”

Listen to the entire speech:  AUDIO 18 min

Bachmann speaks at King’s event in Des Moines (audio)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, www.hereiniowa.com)

Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann is the third maybe/could be/might be presidential candidate to speak at Congressman Steve King’s “Conservative Principles Conference” today.  It was a barn-burner, as they say in these parts. Anyone listening to it can conclude Bachmann’s “in” the race.

AUDIO 25 min

As she was being introduced, there was an audible “oh” from the crowd when introducer Matt Whitaker said Bachmann & her husband have been foster parents to 23 children (in addition to their five biological children).

“Isn’t it exciting to be here?,” Bachmann said when she reached the stage. ” There is no place like Iowa.  We love it…and it’s wonderful to be in a state where you have the king of conservatism.”  (That would be…Steve King.)

Bachmann is the queen of the quips today and she’s getting the crowd involved early in a cadence that starts on the topic of the economic stimulus package.

“Did President Obama correctly diagnose the problem with job creation?” Bachmann asked.

The crowd responded, “No.”

“Did he have the correct solution?” she asked.

“No,” the audience replied.

She quickly followed, asking the crowd what “level of credibility” Obama had on the subject.

“None,” the crowd said.

Bachmann added her own “not so much” and then started another cadence, praising the crowd for being “extremely good looking and well tempered.”

Bachmann took a shot at Obama — over his picks in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  “The president was 0-4 last year in his Final Four predictions. Do you remember that. OK, we’ll let him have that. Now he has us engaged in yet another third middle eastern war and so, I think, talk about March Madness. Can anybody say Jimmy Carter?” she said.  “That’s kind of where we’re going.”

She mentioned her Iowa roots, then talked about the stakes of 2012 before launching into a Power Point presentation in which numbers (in white) were featured on the black screens to her left and right.

She decried the national debt.

“That made our Chinese banker friends very happy and you know that the Chinese leader is named President Hu and so clearly we know now ‘Hu is your daddy,'” she joked.  The crowd clapped and hooted.  “Who says Iowa doesn’t have a sense of humor?  It’s born right here.”

She marched on through other numbes, declaring one was “enough to curl your hair.”

She got to 3.8 million.

“What could that be?” she asked the crowd, then quickly supplied the answer. “That’s approximately the number of words in the tax code…Let’s make it simple.  What about fairer?  Anybody like a fair tax or a flat tax?”

The crowd erupted.  Her final quip on this topic:  “Our current United States tax code is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Another number from the Bachmann Power Point: 1.83.

She said it was the price that gasoline was the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president.

“Is it time for a change?” she asked, borrowing a bit from Obama’s 2008 campaign theme.

“Yes,” the crowd responded.

“Absolutely it’s time for a change!” Bachmann returned.

She dismissed Washington, D.C. as the place “where the money spigot never shuts off.”

She mentioned New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, and the crowd booed.  She chided them:  “Now, we’re nice here in Iowa.  I just want to remind you.”

She suggested Weiner was seeking a waiver from “ObamaCare”.

Bachmann then quipped: “I want a waiver from the last two years of President Obama. Are you with me?”

If you listen to the speech, you will know that the crowd was with her at this point.

She ridiculed federal funding for “cowboy poetry festivals” and derided the idea of new regulations on light bulbs.

“I introduced the Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act,” she said, getting a strong positive response from the crowd. “I think Iowans are to be trusted on the choice of their own lightbulbs.”

She gave a sort of shout out to governors in Wisconsin and Ohio who have taken on public sector unions.

Remember Obama’s “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” speech?  Bachmann’s next riff was reminiscent of that.

“We are the answer to the problem,” she said, before launching into the next part of her speech which was about the “intact, two-parent family” being the driving force for America’s “economic growth, health and well-being.”

“…We’ve been told we need a truce on social issues and I would highly disagree with that because social conservatism is fiscal conservatism,” she said.

Bachmann returned to the tax issue, mentioning she’d been a tax lawyer.  “We make the tax code simpler by first abolishing it,” she declared, getting another strong positive response from crowd, including one very loud whistle.  “And from there, we’re going to fly.”

She suggested it was time for a “change in attitude” in D.C., but then put a finer point on it: “What we need is a change in address form for the person who is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

That drew sustained applause, too.

Bachmann compared herself with “another dark-horse candidate” — Abraham Lincoln.

“What Lincoln said…is still true today in Des Moines, Iowa….will we survive to the latest generation?  Will we survive?…I say to you…don’t look to me. Don’t look to any other politician…the idea of liberty is so great and so precious that the founders recognized that it would only be entrusted to the brain trust and that’s the people of this nation.”

“…I am so absolutly confident in 2012…America has made their decision.  We are going to take our country back…We are going to have a better day….Are you in?  Are you in for 2012? Are you in?  Are you going to make it happen?”

Bachmann concluded by saying she’s in.  Indeed.

Gingrich speaks @ King’s conference in DSM (audio)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the second prospective “candidate” to speak at Congressman Steve King’s conference in Des Moines. Listen: GingrichMarch26

“First of all, it’s great to be here and I’m very proud of what…Steve King is doing in Washington to defund ObamaCare,” Gingrich said to start. “…What he is doing is really important because we have to draw the line in the sand this year and we have to stop ObamaCare being implemented this year.”

(Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour — the first speaker at this event — did not do the same kind of homage to King, BTW.)

Gingrich mentioned some aspects of the health care reform act dealing with dental care. “It’s not a laughing matter and Steve King understand that,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich then mentioned his wife, Callista, who went to college in northeast Iowa. “She spent four years getting to know Iowa winters better, but since she’s from western Wisconsin, she actually thought of it as going south for the winter,” he joked.

Gingrich declared himself “very optimistic” about the 2012 election.  “I think there are three large topics on which we can recenter America.  The first is values…the second is the economy…and the third is national security,” he said.

Gingrich derided “many of our tenured faculty” at colleges around the country, then suggested “every class in K-12, in every tax-paid college university should teach the Declaration of Independence.” This drew applause.  “And I don’t care what the ACLU says, they should teach it accurately and they should explain what the Founding Fathers meant when they said, ‘We held these truths self-evident…and that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.'”

Gingrich next rejected the idea the GOP should focus on economic rather than social issues in 2012.  “If you don’t start with values…the rest of it doesn’t matter.  Life is not just about money,” Gingrich said, to applause.

Gingrich addressed economic issues, then went to national security, addressing his statements about Libya.  (Read background here.)

Gingrich said at this point, the “only rational objective” of the current U.S. involvement in Libya is the removal of Gaddafi “as quickly as possible.”

Gingrich, as he has recently, derided Obama as a “spectator in chief” who is “confused” about “whether his job is kicking a soccer ball” or being the leader of the free world.

Gingrich mentioned the 200 executive orders he’d sign on day one if he’s elected president.

“We can turn it around with remarkable speed,” Gingrich said as he neared conclusion.

Barbour speaks at King’s conference in Des Moines (audio)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is the first “candidate” to speak to the crowd at Congressman Steve King’s conference today.

AUDIO: 18 min

“I am glad to be here,” he began, joking he’d been given a “fast, hard clock” to limit his remarks to 16 minutes & 48 seconds.  “(King) told me I was lucky to be doing this without an interpreter,” Barbour joked in his southern drawl, getting a laugh out of the audience.

Barbour suggested it was important to have a “narrow focus” in 2012. “For 2012 it is absolutely critical we elect a new POTUS and I want to say to you that I think the best way…perhaps the only way is for us to make sure the 2012 campaign is focused on policy…because the American people agree with us on policy,” Barbour said.

Next, Barbour asked if folks in the crowd were “old enough to remember Ed Sullivan.”  Then he told a story about an appearance Conrad Hilton, founder of the luxury hotel chain that bears his name.  Sullivan, according to Barbour, asked Hilton what the single most important thing he wanted to convey to the American people. Barbour delivered this as the laugh line: “Put the shower curtain inside the tub.”

As the crowd’s laughter died down, Barbour added: “Now there’s a guy that knew what was important to him. What is important to us is to have a new president on January 20, 2013. We can’t lose focus on that.”

A reporter in the back of the room was doing a “live shot” and Barbour took a shot at him.  “Our friends in the news media, the ones in the back talkin’,” Barbour said, to applause from the crowd. Barbour continued his thought, then, suggesting the news media has gotten Obama wrong.

Barbour criticized Obama for proposing increases in taxes on the oil industry. “Who’s he think’s going to pay that? Exxon? That’s going to be paid by the people who are pumping gas and diesel fuel into their cars & trucks,” Barbour said.

Barbour cast Democrats as a party who thinks “a bigger government means a bigger economy.” Barbour said a bigger government means a smaller economy. “When the government sucks all the money out of the economy, how is the private sector supposed to create jobs?”

Barbour dismissed the “government elites in Washington” toward the end of his remarks.

“I wish we had some people in this administration who’d signed the front side of a paycheck in their lives,” Barbour said, to applause, “some people who understand it’s the private sector that creates wealth.”

Gingrich on “Iowa Press” tonight

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the guest on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  It airs at 7:30 tonight and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.  After the show, Gingrich addressed the charge that he’s flip-flopped on Libya.  (P.S. There’s audio there if you follow that link, so you can listen to NG himself.)

During the program, Gingrich presented himself as the candidate of ideas who can best match wits with President Obama in the presidential debates of October, 2012.  (See more about that below) Gingrich suggested he hadn’t been ready to run in ’08 because his idea factory hadn’t churned up enough stuff, but he hinted he’s poised to make a “positive announcement” about his presidential aspirations in four or five weeks.  Gingrich mentioned recent visits to states like South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa — which hold the first contests in the 2012 primary election cycle — “basically testing the waters…and so far the waters are pretty warm.  I feel pretty good about this…I think it’s fair to say that we’re a lot closer to running than not running at this stage.”

Gingrich also addressed the topic of his marital history. 

AP reporter Mike Glover: “You’ve been married three times. You’ve had messy divorces.  You’re campaigning in a state where the Republican Party is dominated by Christian conservatives. How do you get past that?”

Gingrich: “I think you don’t get past that.  I think you tell the truth and I think you share your life’s experiences and you admit that you’ve had weaknesses and that you’ve had failures and you’ve gone to God to seek forgiveness and to seek reconciliation and then people make a decision. And they look at the totality of my life. I’m 67.  Callista and I have a great marriage. We have two wonderful daughters. We have two grandchildren who are terrific and people have to decide, on balance, am I a person that they would respect and trust in the White House.”

Gingrich said you don’t have to be likeable to win the presidency — he cited Nixon as an example– and when questioned about what qualifies one to be president, he cited Lincoln and Eisenhower as examples of successful presidents because they had, in Gingrich’s assessment, core beliefs.

He restated his support of corn-based ethanol fuel toward the end of the show and said there were no strings attached to his six-figure contribution to last fall’s effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 judicial retention election.  Gingrich added he would be willing to support an effort to oust the four justices who remain on the court who joined in the unanimous 2009 opinion which legalized gay marriage in Iowa.

At the beginning of the show, Gingrich addressed the idea voters may be looking for a “fresh face” in 2012.  Neat the end, he addressed this:

Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (me): “Given the propensity of Americans to like to promote a state-leve chief executive — a governor, given the desire of some part in your party to nominate a business person or someone with a business background, is it wise to nominate a former professor who ‘s an author to run against a former professor who’s an author?”

Gingrich: “Well, it depends on whether or not you think winning the debates in October matters.  I mean it strikes me that going up against Barack Obama is going to come down to what Margaret Thatcher used to say when she said that, ‘First you win the argument, then you win the vote.” 

Gingrich continued that thought, saying the GOP has to nominate someone who “philosophically and practically can be on the same stage” with Obama.  “I think you could see a Gingrich versus Obama range of choices that would be very wide,” he said.

Rick Santorum @ Iowa Faith & Family Coalition event

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the fifth and final potential presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event this evening in Waukee, Iowa.  (Listen to his speech)

“Steve, good to be with you, Steve.  That’s cheap,” Santorum said after he was introduced, referencing former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s faux pas  just a few seconds earlier, as Pawlenty had mistakenly called Steve Scheffler (president of the Iowa Faith & Family Coalition) Chuck rather than Steve. (Pawlenty told the crowd he knows a Chuck Scheffler from Minnesota.)

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Santorum then said, apologizing to Pawlenty. “I’ve done that a million times, so sorry.”

Santorum began his remarks by telling the crowd: “This is not just another speech to me…This is a group that means a lot to me, because this is a group that I’ve been attached to the hip from, working in the vineyards.”

America isn’t about great wealth or great power, according to Santorum. “The purpose of America is to create an opportunity for each and every person…to live as they were called to live,” he said.

As for that “truce” on social issues that another prospective presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, has suggested? “You can’t,” Santorum told the crowd.

Santorum joked about being referred to as an “ultra-conservative” Republican. “My kids used to think my first name was ‘Ultra,'” Santorum said, to applause and laughter from the crowd.  “…Once you fight for the moral fabric of your country, you’re labeled.”

After a brief foray into foreign policy (the Obama Administration, according to Santorum, took the side of the mullahs), Santorum returned to the domestic issue of partial birth abortion.

“I’m Ultra,” Santorum declared. “Why? Because I share your values and I fought for them.”

“…We have an opportunity in this election to frame a great moral cause.  Everyone wants to talk about the economy…It’s vitally important to create jobs…repeal ObamaCare, but what’s the mission?” Santorum asked. “…We have to paint an America…where Americans believe in themselves again.”

Santorum, in hushed tones, urged the people in the crowd to “put your citizenship cap on” and be faithful, then closed with a story about the partial birth abortion debate in the U.S. Senate that he often tells in speeches.

Speeches over at 8:34 p.m. central time.

Tim Pawlenty @ Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is the fourth candidate to speak at this evening’s Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event in Waukee, Iowa.  (Listen to his speech.)

“Well, thanks a lot, or as President Obama would say, ‘You’re welcome,'” Pawlenty began, getting a laugh. then he quickly launched into a story about LBJ and a prayer LBJ aide Bill Moyers was delivering at a White House meeting.  When LBJ complained he couldn’t hear Moyers praying, Moyers replied: “It wasn’t you I was talkin’ to.”

Pawlenty continued: “That’s a great story about remembering where we get our help from.”

Pawlenty mentioned Ronald Reagan and how the Bible Reagan used to take the oath of office in 1981 was “opened up” to II Chronicles 7:14.

“We need to know where our helps comes from. We need to be a country that turns toward God, not a country that turns away from God,” Pawlenty said. “…The constitution was designed to protect people of fatih from government, not to protect government from people of faith.”

Pawlenty stressed his pro-life stand and his opposition to gay marriage.

“We need leaders that can not just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” he said, adding it’s important to have the “compass set right.”

Pawlenty seems to be adopting a southern accent as he talks about his record as governor of Minnesota.  “It ain’t gonna be easy,” Pawlenty said as he wound down.  “…This is about plowing ahead and getting the job done.”

Pawlenty came back after the crowd applauded to apologize to Steve Scheffler, the president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, who he had called “Chuck” a few times.  “There’s a Chuck Scheffler in Minnesota,” he explained.