Tim Pawlenty speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo)
From MPR’s Brett Neely and Mark Zdechlik:
(Washington) -Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty rallied the Republican faithful in an address at today’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, as he explores a potential run for the White House in 2012.
Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy, R-WI, introduced Pawlenty to the packed to capacity crowd, calling the potential GOP presidential candidate, “a great Midwesterner with a friendly disposition.”
Pawlenty’s speech pointed to his record leading Minnesota as a guide to his conservative credentials, while also taking a dig at the state’s liberal lions.
“I come from the state of McCarthy, Mondale, Humphrey, Wellstone and now United States Sen. Al Franken,” Pawlenty said to the crowd, who began to boo. He continued, “But we cut government in Minnesota and if we can do it there, we can do it anywhere.”
Pawlenty repeated many of the policy proposals that other CPAC speakers touched on, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN. He pledged to repeal President Obama’s healthcare proposal, balance the budget and “throw the tax code overboard.”
He asked that every member of Congress prepare their own tax returns without the assistance of lawyers and accountants to, “experience first-hand the moronic, burdensome and intimidating beast that our tax system has become.”
On the national debt On the growing national debt, Pawlenty said America needs more “common sense” and less “Obama sense.”
“My friends, we need to restore American confidence. We need to restore American optimism. We need to restore America’s hope for the future. We need to restore the American dream by restoring American common sense,” he said.
Like many of the other speakers at the conference, known as C-PAC, Pawlenty called for repealing the federal health care overhaul.
Using a metaphor he has employed often in speeches, Pawlenty said citizens can decide better than government how to spend their own money, pointing to the difference between weddings with an open bar and a cash bar (as MinnPost D.C. reporter Derek Wallbank points out, Pawlenty held an open bar event last night in Washington for his supporters).
Pawlenty also touched lightly upon socially conservative themes, saying that the nation needed to heed the motto, “In God We Trust.” However, he did not elaborate further and dive further into topics such as abortion or same-sex marriage.
Pawlenty will face off against Bachmann and others in the CPAC presidential preference staw poll. The results will be released tomorrow.
Listen to Pawlenty’s remarks here: