Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”
House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.
As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.
“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.
“And so the fact that the Tea Party and others are pushing for more cuts, deeper cuts, faster reform, that’s a good thing. I don’t discount that, I applaud it.”
He is due to address CPAC on Friday.
Pawlenty says he is “a month or so” away from deciding whether to run for office. As a Minnesotan known for his mild manners, he faces a considerable challenge at winning recognition against Republican rock stars like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
But Pawlenty sounds undaunted: “As people get to know me, I tend to get support. I got elected and reelected in probably the most liberal state in the country as a Republican.”
He also has an “A” grade for his record of gubernatorial fiscal discipline from the libertarian Cato Institute to help fend off criticism that he is really an establishment Republican in conservative garb.
But Pawlenty sounds a bit Obama-esque while accounting for his role in Minnesota’s current fiscal woes. His successor, Gov. Mark Dayton, complains that he inherited a “fiscal mess” from Pawlenty that now includes a projected $6.2 billion budget deficit.
Pawlenty’s response: “It’s a result, of course, largely of not particular policies but the worst economic collapse of World War II.”
Oh, and PS: He says Dayton needs to cut spending, like he did.
Reuters Photo Credits: Joshua Roberts (Tim Pawlenty); Jim Bourg (White House in the Twilight)
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