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Pawlenty outlines strategy for rebuilding GOP

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  Gov. Tim Pawlenty, speaking to a cheering crowd of college Republicans in Washington tonight, demurred on questions about a widely speculated run for the presidency in 2012, but did say that he felt he had something valuable to add to the party.

“I haven’t ruled anything out, or anything in,” Pawlenty told reporters before his speech. “I don’t know what the future holds for me. But I do think that I have some things that are worth sharing [with] the party, and so I am going to try, as a volunteer, to go out and do that once in a while. But in terms of turning that into a campaign, I don’t have any future plans about that, but I am going to help on the issue side and the policy side and do my part to get this party back on track.”

In his speech to the gathered young Republicans, who welcomed him with a standing ovation and “T-Paw” chants, Pawlenty attempted to lay out some of those issues and a strategy for taking back the majority -- a plan, he said, that essentially hinges on cementing the GOP as the party of individual freedom, optimism, diversity and the middle class.

“Ever hear that the Republicans are not for the working person?” Pawlenty asked. “Ever hear that? Well you will. If you want to reconnect with friends and neighbors... we have to be able to speak to the bread-and-butter issues.”

Those issues, according to Pawlenty, include merit pay for teachers, a balanced federal budget, a health care system that is not government run and a greater emphasis on international security.

GOP’s rebirth

According to Pawlenty, the Reagan Democrats are now the Sam’s Club Republicans, and vital to the GOP’s rebirth.

“We are the market place party, we pride ourselves on looking at the market place as a measure of how things are going... and the market place in 2006 and 2008 has been sending us messages,” Pawlenty said. “And the market place is saying, at least for now, in too many parts of the country, in too many races, our customers --  the voters --  prefer the products and services of our competitors.  And when you lose market share to the degree we have and have those kinds of results, it’s important for us as a group, as a party, as a team, to step back and talk a little bit about how we can do better.”

In what one college Republican later deemed a “typical stump speech,” Pawlenty emphasized that a large part of doing better comes down to tone.

“You look back to Ronald Reagan,” Pawlenty said. “He was a positive, optimistic, and hopeful leader. People want to follow someone who is positive and optimistic.”

And image: “I want to challenge you in your chapter back home... to think purposefully about elevating and recruiting women leaders, more leaders with diverse backgrounds,” Pawlenty said to the overwhelmingly white audience. “The value of that is that the messenger sort of matters. It does matter.”

‘Suffocating, strangling government’

Although Pawlenty focused on weaknesses that Republicans must address, he also offered the group a vision of how things may swing back their way.

“We will have a federal government that is so pervasive in our lives... that it begins to suffocate that spirit of liberty, individual responsibility and freedom,” Pawlenty said of the Obama administration’s current course.

Pawlenty predicted that as the deficit balloons and government programs grow, public opinion will realign with Republicans as the party for individual freedom and responsibility and against a “suffocating, strangling government.”

In the course of trying to adapt, however, Pawlenty emphasized that the party’s core conservative principals should remain the same.

“[It] doesn’t mean we have to behave like Democrats,” Pawlenty concluded.

“It is about getting Democrats to become Republicans.”

It’s a goal that will become all the more vital to the Minnesota Republican if he decides to take his show on the road to the White House in 2012.

Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota's congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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Comments (7)

"strategy for taking back the majority"

If I recall correctly, Mr. Pawlenty never achieved a majority in a gubernatorial election.

Typical of him, Tim, once again, demonstrates how delusional he can be. The only needed counterbalance to his claims that the Republicans can rescue the middle class from "suffocating" government is trotting out statistics of what he's done, by his insistence, finagling, and unalotment, TO the middle class and future possibilities for their children here in Minnesota.

Then just follow that up with statistics of how both business and educational institutions have fared, as compared to earlier times in Minnesota. Any business people, especially those in high tech and med tech areas are already running screaming from Tim and his friends. The only people Tim has rescued from "suffocating" government are the wealthiest of the wealthy and their sycophantic lackeys.

Tim may think he can be the political reincarnation of George Bush II as Bush was immediately after 09/11/01, but, although the 20%'ers who still call themselves faithful Republicans may find that appealing, the rest of the nation, having been awakened by the obvious lies, blunders, and incompetence following Hurricane Katrina, which stripped away their blinders and helped them to see that Bushco was nothing but lies, blunders, incompetence and torture, have no interest in the reign of a new Republican monarch, King Tim.

And, please! please! please! Could someone do a little research and discover who Tim's Svengali's and Rasputin's are (or Cheney's, and Rove's, for that matter)? We need someone to strip away the curtain that hides Tim's handlers so we can discover who he REALLY is.

I just don't get it. As most or all republicans before him one of his biggest goals will be to reduce or eliminate capital gains tax. On a local note it seems one of the biggest goals is to start charging/taxing for miles driven not gas consumed which penalizes the thrifty who invest in more fuel effecient vehicles. Someone please help or make a comment.

//The governor deserves a bit of extra credit for being a Republican in a blue state, although his approval ratings have been nothing remarkable. He's no Charlie Crist or Jon Huntsman Jr., someone whose popularity at home clearly points toward some kind of special political acumen.//

//True, almost any "opposite-color" governor of a reasonably large state is someone who is going to get at least a passing thought from his party. But there's no particularly good reason why, say, Tim Pawlenty is considered a serious presidential candidate and someone like Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell isn't.//

//Pawlenty is not the only Republican hopeful with some appeal to the working class. Palin and Huckabee, notably, are big problems for him. So the Hockey Dad shtick alone won't be enough for him. Although The Republican presidential field is crowded, it's least crowded in the dimension of a moderate populist.//

//Pawlenty's small opening might come among voters who conclude that Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are a little scary (although Pawlenty is an evangelical Christian, he'll lose if he tries to out-conservative them), but that Charlie Crist and Mitt Romney are not quite what the voters are looking for in a candidate.//

//The governor has recently won a sizable political victory over the recent budget battle with the DFL legislature in Minnesota. In spite of balancing the budget using the time honored tradition of shifts and borrowing. He will no doubt frame the issue as one where he did not raise taxes on the voters. This will be a huge plus for him.//

//It's going to take a lot of ingenuity for Pawlenty to win the Republican nomination. He starts out with much lower name recognition, and a much weaker brand, than most of his rivals. But that is, I suppose, why he's decided to take two years off to get ready for the race.//

Pawlenty got 46.7 percent of the vote in 2006 - Dem. Mike Hatch and his running mate self-destructed the last week of the campaign with some mis-statements and ended up with 45.7 of the vote. Peter Hutchinson, who was considerably to the left of Mike Hatch ended up with 6.4 percent of the vote. T-Paw was lucky. In 2002, he got 45% against an extraordinarily weak and inept Dem. opponent who got 36% and a third party candidate who got 16% (and a green party candidate who got 2%). Pawlenty got a lucky break and proceeded to preside over the decline of Minnesota.

He is right about one thing. Tone matters. As long as the Repubs focus on their hate filled demonization of anyone who doesn't agree with them, they will have little chance of becoming the majority. TPaw shows little sign of changing - it looks like he's already taken a swipe at one of the favorite Repub bugaboos, teacher's unions, and offered up the tired canard of 'the government is going to ruin health care, so we need to keep it in the hands of the insurance companies' approach to reforming health care.

The Republicans talk about the working class, but don't seem to offer any solutions that actually help the working class. Under Pawlenty, a two year college degree at a MN state institution now apparently costs more than anyplace else in the country. That's the kind of help the working class can do without. Under Pawlenty, the working poor are losing their state subsidized health care. But the wealthy can rest-assured that they will continue to pay a lower percent of their income in taxes than working class folks.

Ronald Reagan was an actor with a great voice who told people what they wanted to hear. "There's no energy shortage." "The market will regulate itself."

How could a nice christian candidate like Pawlenty push for the expansion of gambling? America wants to know.