Pawlenty @ Iowa GOP event

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

The crowd is entering a meeting hall on the Iowa State Fairgrounds at this hour.  Each ticket holder paid $25.  What do they get for $25?  A hot dog, a bag of chips, a cookie & a couple of hours-worth of political speeches.  Keynoter tonight is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who spent his morning (and perhaps part of the afternoon) hunting as it’s the opening weekend of deer season in Minnesota.  Sources say the governor “grazed” a deer, but he did not “bag” one (“bag” a deer, one of my male friends tells me, is the proper way to refer to the act).

It’s 5:35 p.m. and people are milling about, chatting.  Most of the chatting is about the gubernatorial campaign, as former Governor Terry Branstad will be making his first appearance on stage with the other men who’ve been campaigning for the GOP’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination for months.  That gubernatorial cattle call may upstage Pawlenty in terms of the Iowa audience.

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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.” 

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T-Paw on NY 23 race

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty spoke with Iowa reporters late this morning (in advance of his appearance at a Republican Party of Iowa gala on Saturday night) and he answered a couple of questions (from me) about the outcome in New York’s 23rd congressional district.  As you may know, Pawlenty endorsed Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.  Here’s a story about the results of the race, which saw Democrat Bill Owens win. 

Here’s a transcript of the Q&A from this morning with Pawlenty:

Henderson: “You endorsed a candidate in the 23rd congressional district of New York who did not win.  What is your analysis of that race?”

Pawlenty:  “Well, I think the situation in the 23rd district in New York is that you had an unusual selection process for the Republican candidate.  It was done by a very small group of people. It wasn’t open. It wasn’t transparent to a broad group of the party or the public and it produced a disappointing result and then she took the step, of course, of endorsing the Democratic candidate and while it was close between the Democrat and Doug Hoffman, obviously the Democrat ended up winning.

“That’s unfortunate, but I think we had a candidate in the Republican candidate who, you know, embraced the stimulus bill, embraced the bank bailout, embraced card check which is to say that they wanted to take away the right to vote in workplace elections. She was endorsed by an ACORN-related party or organization.  She voted numerous times to raise income taxes or taxes in New York.  She was described by the New York Post as a profligate spender and taxer.

“And so that was a troubling set of positions, I think, for many Republicans and it was a close race.  I wish it would have come out differently.”  

Henderson:  “Do you intend to endorse other conservative candidates who do not run under the Republican banner in the 2010 election?”

Pawlenty:  “No.  You know, the difference in that race in upstate New York is there was just a lot of concern in the selection process not being open or transparent or reflective of, you know, a good judgment and screening of a broad base of people in that state or in that area.  That is not the case across the country.

“In almost every case, we have systems that are open, either caucuses or primaries. They allow…large volumes of people to participate in a democratic and open way and we need to look to and trust the Republicans and the people of those respective states to pick their candidates and that process will yield the proper result.

“But that’s very different than in upstate New York where I think nine or 10 or 11 people basically just cut the deal and selected this candidate.”

Trying to smoke Palin out?

At 11:05 p.m. last night, the Iowa Family Policy Center’s Bryan English emailed a news release, revealing the IFPC’s “ACTION” arm is trying to land former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a speaker for an event in four weeks.  (You can read the news release below.)  For those of you who don’t have your calendar/daily diary handy, November 21, 2009 — the date on which the IFPC ACTION folks would like to have Palin speak — is the same night that Vice President Joe Biden will be in Des Moines to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

It means Palin would be sharing the spotlight with Biden that night, as most stories would be written about what each had to say about the other — or that they failed to acknowledge in their speeches that the other “personage” was in the same area code.  It means reporters would compare the crowd for Palin and the crowd for Biden: Which one was bigger?  Which one was more enthusiastic?  Which one exhibited/highlighted greater schisms in their respective party? It means the “roll-out” of a new Democratic contestant for a possible race against Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley would be overshadowed.

But this preemptive news release also means the folks at IFPC ACTION are having as difficult a time in landing a Palin appearance as the folks at the Republican Party of Iowa did.  The RPI’s annual fall fundraiser is scheduled for November 7, 2009, and the “keynoter” for that event is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  I’m sure “T-Paw” is well aware that the RPI’s first choice was Palin, but she would not commit.

Palin, as you may know, will be selling a book in November and it’s anybody’s guess how a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, on November 21, would fit into the game-plan for selling that book.  Mikc Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is selling a new book, too, in November. He plans to visit three Iowa bookstores on November 8, 2009.

On Saturday night in November of 2003, former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton — New York’s junior senator at the time — came to Des Moines, Iowa, to serve as emcee for the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2003 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner which featured all the Democratic presidential candidates in that cycle.  The next day, which was Sunday, Clinton did an afternoon book-signing event at a West Des Moines bookstore.  People stood in line for hours to get her autograph.

So, perhaps the Palin folks are considering a Saturday night speech in Des Moines, followed by a Sunday after-church booksigning at a bookstore in the Des Moines metro.  They’d have to decide which church Palin would attend that morning.  Would the event be open to cameras?  Would Palin speak to the congregation? Would she sell and sign books at the church, too?

So many questions, unanswered today.  Read the IFPC ACTION news release below.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009.

That’s the date of the first Republican gubernatorial candidate forum in which the new entrant in the competition — former Governor Terry Branstad — will participate.  It’s the night of the fall fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa.  It’s also the night “T-PAW” — Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty — will make his first public appearance in Iowa for the 2012 cycle.

Pawlenty was last here in August, 2008, to speak at a Latham campaign event which was seen as one of Pawlenty’s public auditions for the role of John McCain’s running mate.  Pawlenty memorably used a tire gauge as a prop.  Pawlenty also told an “Olie and Lena” joke at the Latham event in ’08, so those of you planning to attend the 11-07-09 event, prepare yourself for at least one joke about a fictional Norwegian couple’s naivete.

Read the details of the 11-07-09 event below:

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‘Tis T-PAW

The Republican Party of Iowa announced this morning that Minnesota’s Republican Governor (who is not seeking reelection but, instead, plotting a 2012 bid for the White House) is the speaker at their fall fundraising banquet.  Read the release below.

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The fella from up “narth”

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has launched a political action committee (PAC), a move that’s a prelude to a 2010 presidential campaign.  

Jonathan Martin of The Politico has a story about Pawlenty’s recruitment of key political operatives like Iowa natives Terry Nelson and Sarah Taylor. Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post has a who’s who list of Pawlenty’s advisors.

Toss that tire gauge, get a “bumper strip”

Republicans like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and presidential candidate John McCain lambasted Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for suggesting Americans could save money to ensuring their tires are properly inflated. 

Today, Tennesee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was among the folks the McCain campaign lined up to speak to the Iowa delegates at the Repbulican National Convention.  She had another suggestion, connected to get-out-the-vote efforts:  "Everybody is fussin’ about what they’re paying. You know, down south we fuss about things. We don’t argue.  We just fuss, so when they’re fussing about what they’re paying to fill up the gas tank, tell ’em this, say ‘Let me offer you an idea.  Take this John McCain bumper strip and put it on the back window of that car.  Just test it out for a few days.  See if you don’t get better gas mileage,’ and we’ll be sure we get all these people to the polls."

Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Todd Dorman suggested earlier today that Blackburn has a voice/vocal pattern that’s very similar to Dolly Parton’s and I just heard that Parton twang most pronounced in this passage.  "I am so thrilled that we have Mrs. McCain with us this morning.  We are just so proud of you," Blackburn said, leading a round of applause for 96-year-old Roberta McCain, John McCain’s mother, who was seated in the audience. "I’m from Tennessee and somebody asked me the other day if I’d met Mrs. McCain. I said, ‘No, I’ve not had that opportunity yet, but I’m looking forward to it because I love good, strong women and good, strong mommas’ and I said, ‘You can talk to John McCain for five minutes and realize he learned early on that if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy and so we’re glad you reared him up right and we’re looking forrward to helping you put him in the White House."  For those of you who don’t want to listen to this 42 second mp3, I can tell you she pronounced the word "on" more like "own" and "can’t" and had a bit of "ain’t" in it, but it’s the way she first pronounced the name "McCain" that makes it Parton-esque.

Off-Broadway rehearsal for Pawlenty?

Minnnesota Governnor Tim Pawlenty, rumored to be on GOP presidential candidfate John McCain’s short list of potential running mates, spoke moments ago at an Iowa GOP campaign headquarters opening in Ames.  Pawlenty had a prop and several salvos to fire at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Pawlenty warmed up the crowd by telling an "Olie and Lena" joke, then launchhed into his brief remarks.  "The people of Ithe United States of America and the people of Iowa are wise. Voting for Barack Obama for president of the United States, leader of the free world and commander-in-chief is the political equivalent of bungee jumping," Pawlenty said, "especially if you’re a little up there along the way of life and you think it might be a good idea or interesting at the time and then you get the edge of the cliff and look over and you think:  ‘This is not such a wise idea.’"

Pawlenty a few minutes later pulled a prop out of his pocket.  "Barack Obama stood up at a speech recently and said that one of the things that is really important from energy policy from his standpoint is to check the pressure in our tires, so here’s a tire gauge and you can go out in the parking lot here and check your tires.  Now, that’s an interesting thing – – we want you to have good pressure in your tires, you know, it will very mildly add to your fuel efficiency — but checking the air pressure in your tires is not an energy policy for the United States of America," Pawlenty said.  The crowd applauded.

Next, Pawlenty made reference to the candidate standing beside him — Congressman Tom Latham — and the topic in McCain’s latest campaign commercial.  "I’ll just close by saying that we have a chance in Congressman Latham and Senator McCain to elect to these offices two people who are authentic, two people who are deeply committed to public service and are doing it because they feel them have something to contribute, not out of a sense of celebrity or, you know, some other motivation," Pawlenty said.

I’m set to interview Pawlenty in a few minutes.  More later.  (Thanks to Eric Johansen for the use of his laptop.)

UPDATE at 4:44 p.m.:  The Obama campaign emailed this in response to Pawlenty’s remarks. “With fewer than 100 days before the election, Senator McCain and his campaign continue to take the low road and resort to negative, desperate, and false attacks. While Senator McCain’s energy plan hands out nearly $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies and invests almost nothing in new energy sources, Senator Obama’s plan will provide tax rebates to families and create a renewable energy economy in America that will free us from our dependence on foreign oil.” — Obama campaign spokesperson Jenni Lee

UPDATE at 5:05 p.m.:  Here’s the Radio Iowa story (with a 14 minute mp3 at the bottom of Pawlenty’s speech). The story includes Pawlenty’s stiff-arm/answer to questions about the VP search.  "It’s an honor to have your name mentioned amongst many other really fine people, really wonderful people — but I have stopped talking about it because over the weeks and months every time I use one word different than I did the previous day or week then it sets off another round about whether that was something to change the speculation about it all," Pawlenty said, "so I just have stopped visiting about it."

Romney on D.C. ethics, “sanctuary cities”

Former Massachusetts Governor/GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney bought about 275 people breakfast at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa, this morning.  You can listen to Romney’s speech (plus Q&A) and read the Radio Iowa story here.

Romney held a news conference afterwards (you can listen to the.mp3 by clicking here ). Romney was asked whether he was specifically targeting Alaska Senator Ted Stevens with his lament about the bad ethics in Washington (short answer:  nope). Romney was asked about his statement that discretionary federal grants should be taken away from cities that become "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants. Romney was asked about the Minneapolis bridge collapse, too, and he talked about the Big Dig in his answer.

Romney:  "We were all shocked by what happened in Minneapolis, but for me it was a reminder of what had happened in my own state about a year ago, just about a year ago when a one-ton ceiling panel collapsed and killed a woman who was driving through the Big Dig and in that case we put together a process to assure the public and assure ourselves that the system was safe and we brought in forensic engineers and did a stem to stern review of entire tunnel project.  That’s obviously within the scope of reason, meaning you can evaluate one tunnel project.  How you evaluate all the bridges and all of the tunnels in America, I’m not sure, but it certainly calls into question the process that we’ve employed in some cases and you know, my heart goes out to the families that have lost loved ones and I’m also thinking about Governor Pawlenty.  I know the challenge he has now is to make sure that the bridges in his state are structurally sound and I know the process that we carried out.  It does make you wonder what happened and these kind of terrible tragedies occur and there are firms that are, if you will, forensic engineering firms that help you understand why something like this happened, but until someone like that is involved to assess the nature or the cause of this collapse, it has to make everybody in Minneapolis, in Minnesota, in the country, just a little more nervous."