#’12 T-Paw says: “It’s gut-check time” (audio)

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty spent over an hour on a hockey rink early this afternoon, shuttling on and off the ice to play a pick-up game at the Metro Ice Sports Facility in Urbandale, Iowa.

Wearing the number ’12 — for 2012 — and a campaign-themes blue jersey, Pawlenty scored “barely” goal by his own admission. I saw him check Matt Whitaker, his Iowa campaign co-chair, into the boards once. (Whitaker is a former University of Iowa football player who plays hockey this days, for fun.)  Many Pawlenty staffers were in the stands, wearing campaign hockey jerseys, Sarah Huckabee Saunders among them.  Pawlenty called his time on the ice “good old exercise” and admitted that he went down on his backside “more than once” during the session.  He also did a sort of belly-flop on the ice, pictured above.

AUDIO: Pawlenty spoke with reporters soon after he stepped off the ice

Pawlenty was asked about the debt talks in DC.  As others continued to skate on the rink,  the sounds of hockey sticks slapping the ice and pucks crashing into the boards punctuated Pawlenty’s answer:  “It’s gut check time for the Republicans and for the whole congress, but let’s remember that President Obama is the leader of our entire country and he needs to quit hiding and ducking and bobbing on the issues of real reform. Why won’t he come before the American people and explain in detail why he doesn’t support a constitutional amendment to balance the budget? Where is his specific plan on Medicaid reform? Where is his specific plan on Social Security reform? Where is his specific plan on Medicare reform? I mean, he allegedly whispers about it in private. We don’t need a whisperer-in-chief or a president who hides in the basement. Have him come on out and explain to the American people what he’s going to propose.”

Pawlenty said he favors cut, cap and balance, but sinc e the Senate today has rejected it: “They’re going to have to think of what they’re going to do next,” he said of Republicans in congress. “Give them a little time to get their next plan together.”

Pawlenty then was pressed about speculation that someone connected to the Pawlenty campaign had pushed the Bachmann migraine story.  “I can tell you I checked with our staff and they indicated directly and unequivocally they didn’t push the story,” Pawlenty said. “…I didn’t go talk to, you know, the summer interns and the college kids…I’m confident that our campaign did not push that story.”

Pawlenty did the interview still clad in his hockey gear, clutching his stick, one glove on, the other glove off.  It was reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s pick-up hockey game in November of 2003 at the other big ice arena in Des Moines, where the Des Moines Bucs play.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Crappy coverage of a loser candidate. Ron Paul has already thoroughly out-raised and out polled T-Paw, yet O-Kay covers his lame hockey match- what gives? Pawlenty has already lost, why prop up his campaign?