Pawlenty on CPAC straw poll: “It’s progress”

Gov. Pawlenty defended his standing in last week’s straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Pawlenty finished a distant fourth to Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He also finished one percentage point behind former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and tied with undecided (results here).

During a q and a with reporters in Missouri, Pawlenty disputed a reporter’s notion that he didn’t do well in the poll.

“First of all, the straw poll is preliminary. Last year, I finished second to last, I don’t know how many were there something like fifteen people and I was second to last. And this year, out of fifteen people or whatever, I came in fourth. Unfortunately they showed just the top four finishers on TV so it made it look like I was last but there was a lot of people below including some other folks. To me that’s progress.

You have to remember we just started this PAC last fall. Nobody really knows who I am. I’m from a small state and I don’t have a lot of national awareness so most people even in the party don’t know that much about me or even know who I am.”

Pawlenty sidestepped questions on whether he’ll run for president in 2012 but defended his conservative credentials when asked if he was “conservative enough.”

“By any definition, I would fit into the mainstream conservative mold,” he said.

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