Kline backs Pawlenty in 2012

GOP Rep. John Kline told reporters that he’s backing Tim Pawlenty’s bid for president in 2012. Kline met with Minnesota reporters today to discuss the situation in Wisconsin, the federal budget showdown and the situation in the Middle East.

On Wisconsin, Kline says praised Wisconsin Governor Walker for trying to get a handle of the state’s pension and benefits for state employees. When challenged that unions have already met Walker’s demands, Kline said he didn’t “want to get into Wisconsin’s negotiations” but said politicians need to handle the hard reckoning of budget problems.

Kline will be on the front lines of that hard reckoning next week. The U.S. House has suggested that there will be a “shutdown showdown” over the federal budget. President Obama and Congress have to reach an agreement by March 4th. Kline says he doesn’t want to see a government shutdown but added that House Republicans won’t support a continuing resolution that doesn’t cut government spending. He wouldn’t say what an acceptable level of cuts would be.

“I’m very confident that the Republicans in the House are not going to vote for a continuing resolution that has no cuts in it,” Kline said.

Kline, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, says he’s watching the unrest in the Middle East closely. He said Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi’s violent actions towards protesters in that country borders on an atrocity.

“We have seen now how really bad this guy is when he is killing his own people to stay in power,” Kline said.

Kline said he’s watching the situation in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and Jordan closely. He said it’s possible that the issue could go against U.S. interests in the region.

“I’m not entirely sure that we’re going to like the type of democracy that could come out of this,” Kline said.

Kline said he is hoping unrest in Iran occurs because he argued that the situation can’t get much worse there.

Finally, Kline said he was running for reelection. He was then asked who he was supporting for president 2012.

“Tim Pawlenty,” he said at the end of the news conference.

Kline’s decision to back Pawlenty means he’s not backing GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is also pondering a run for president.

Roll Call reports that Pawlenty is headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to try to build a network of supporters in Congress. Kline and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen are listed on the invitation.

Here’s Kline’s briefing:

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