Tim Pawlenty endorses Fallin, slams Obama, and tests presidential waters

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 22-Jun-2010

In Oklahoma City for a day of campaigning in support of Mary Fallin’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty heard himself described as a “rising star” in the Republican party. Today (Tuesday, June 22), having delivered his endorsement of Rep. Fallin, Pawlenty was asked if he is running for president.

The Republican known for his ability to work with a state Legislature still dominated by Democrats told reporters at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City: “I have lot of work to do right now, including my day job as governor of Minnesota. I’m active with the Republican Governors Association, We have a long ways to go to make Minnesota more pro-jobs, anti-tax increase.”

He continued, “We’re trying to bring Minnesota back into some balance, and certainly trying to get it out of the top 10 in terms of taxes, introduce market reforms in health care and other reforms. The states should be laboratories of democracy, they should be allowed flexibility and accountability so we’re not all just part of a giant cookie cutter.”

As he continued discussions with Oklahoma reporters, Pawlenty warmed to national topics: “I am trying to fight the overreach and excesses of the federal government. I believe an important role for the states is to be primary leaders in policy development. Right now there are far too many handcuffs on the states coming from the federal level.”

Then he responded, “I won’t decide on a presidential race until early 2012. There’s still a chance I’ll open a margarita bar in Florida and play Kenney Chesney music and just relax.”

Later, asked about the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Pawlenty said, “With all due respect to the president, there’s a feeling in the country that he ran a campaign that had great rhetoric, in which he presented himself as a uniter who would bring us together. Many think he engaged in bait-and-switch tactics to get elected.”

He continued, “The Gulf spill by British Petroleum is one of the worst environmental disasters and economic tragedies ever to occur. Already there is news that in April 2009, the Obama administration extended a categorical waiver from the controls that should apply to these kinds of projects. We don’t know if that would have prevented what happened here. It does seem that the administration was asleep at the switch, they didn’t notice the red or yellow flags that were waving in the process.”

Pawlenty reflected, “So now we get the message that President Obama is personally engaged. That’s good, but it took too long to get that message. He and his administration didn’t have a plan to fight this catastrophe when it occurred. We are learning, and he is learning, too late that he should have had a plan in place.”

Pawlenty concluded, “Bottom line, this looks like it’s catastrophic in nature, on several levels. There is a growing, not less, demand for an explanation. Why weren’t they focused immediately on the issue, on the problem? It seems clear that both BP and the federal government cut corners, and that contributed to the catastrophic nature of what has unfolded.”