Pawlenty kicks off campaign with call for end to ethanol subsidies

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is formally kicking off his campaign today in Des Moines, on a rooftop bathed in sunlight and cooled slightly by a gentle breeze.   I’m sitting in the back, around the corner, in the shade, by the guy who’s running the teleprompter.

With the golden dome of the Iowa statehouse glowing in the background, former US Attorney Matt Whitaker — Pawlenty’s Iowa campaign chairman — began the event by telling the crowd the schedule of events and promising the crowd they’d be able to ask Pawlenty questions after T-Paw’s speech.

Mary Pawlenty gave a personal testimonial about her husbsnd, saying she met him in 1983 and “knew I had met somebody extraordinary.”  She used the phrase “salt of the Earth” to describe Pawlenty’s family.  And she praised her husband’s “internal compass,” saying it “is set so true that he always found a way to lead Minnesotans to a better place.”

Mary Pawlenty said she was all-in when it came to supporting her husband. “All that I know and all that I have witnessed…has me supporting him in equal measure with my heart and my head,” she said.

Pawlenty was up next and by 11;38 a.m. Iowa time he had made the formal declaration: “I’m Tim Pawlenty and I’m running for president of the United States.”

Pawlenty told the crowd the country is “in big trouble” and it will take a “new and better president” to fix things.

There were a number of references to truth-telling. “I’m going to take a different approach. I’m going to tell the truth,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty’s truth-telling included a message to Iowans who back subsidies for corn-based ethanol fuel. “We need to do it gradually…but we need to do it,” he said.  According to Pawlenty, the free market, not “freebies” from government, should determine success of all industries, “including ethanol.”

Pawlenty continued: “Someone has to say it.  Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people.  Someone has to lead. I will.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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