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With political attention focused elsewhere, Pawlenty makes his CPAC pitch

Tim Pawlenty speaking at CPAC in Washington on Friday.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Tim Pawlenty speaking at CPAC in Washington on Friday.

WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty’s CPAC speech was delivered under far less than optimal circumstances. His voice, which was cracking yesterday, seemed more hoarse today. His speech began at a few minutes after 2 p.m. Central, the time when the CPAC straw poll closed (meaning his remarks wouldn’t affect the polling one iota).

And attention was divided anyway. Ongoing events in Egypt, particularly the departure of President Mubarak, dictated that President Obama would have to respond live, which he did just as Pawlenty began speaking. As Pawlenty neared the end, Obama surprised journalists in the White House Briefing Room to laud outgoing Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at his final briefing.

Yet here he stood, his moment in the somewhat-shaded sun, and let rip.

“Now, I’m not one who questions the existence of the President’s birth certificate,” Pawlenty said. “But when you listen to his policies, don’t you at least wonder what planet he’s from?” At that point, some wisecracker shouted, “Uranus!” and Pawlenty laughed before continuing.

“On what planet do they create jobs by taxing the daylight out of people trying to grow jobs? On what planet do they try to reduce the deficit by spending even more? On what planet do they make health care better by putting bureaucrats in charge?”

The rest was vintage Pawlenty, in fact it’s safe to say this was his stump speech. It borrowed heavily from Pawlenty’s National Press Club speech last month that kicked off his book tour, in which he painted himself as a business evangelist willing to both speak loudly and carry a big stick in foreign affairs.

“Bullies respect strength, not weakness,” Pawlenty said. “So when the United States of America projects its national security interests here and around the world, we need to do it with strength! We need to make sure that there is no equivocation, no uncertainty, no daylight between us and our allies around the world.”

And then, in the first remarks of any major presidential aspirant that came close to mentioning Egypt: “The current administration doesn’t seem to understand this principle. We undermine Israel, the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, and Colombia, among other friends. Meanwhile, we appease Iran, Russia, and adversaries in the Middle East, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right. Strength makes them submit. Get tough on our enemies — not on our friends.  And, Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country.”

Those remarks were striking, compared with the following major speaker: Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who summed up his international prescription, saying, “We need to do a lot less, a lot sooner, not only in Egypt, but around the world.”

Given that every television news channel was tuned to reports out of Cairo today, the lasting legacy of Pawlenty’s speech at CPAC will be the contrast he draws on foreign policy with the current White House occupant, as he and Paul were the only ones to provide a contrast to President Obama on the dominating national issue of the day.

So in that way, perhaps Pawlenty’s timing wasn’t that unfortunate after all.

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Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Wayne Swickley on 02/11/2011 - 07:21 pm.

    I guess he left out the part about the $6,200,000,000

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 02/11/2011 - 07:56 pm.

    Tim, nobody’s listening. Wake up, smell the coffee, and fold your tent. Then move to a low tax paradise like Mississippi.

  3. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 02/11/2011 - 08:14 pm.

    Poor Timmy can’t catch a break. Its looking like he destroyed out state for nothing. I guess that will be his legacy.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/11/2011 - 09:51 pm.

    At least former Governor Pawlenty can convince himself that he’s not a “loser” since he’ll never officially become a candidate.

    I suppose he’s right. He’ll land at one of the Koch brothers-funded think tanks, Cato or “American Enterprise” or the like where he’ll pull down a healthy salary while continuing to spin his lies about how amazing was his performance when he was the governor of one of those “liberal” states.

    It’s the people of Minnesota who are the losers as we watch our elected representatives and governor try to find SOME way to deal with the $6.2 Billion deficit that Mr. Pawlenty, quite purposefully and willfully (and petulantly) left in his wake.

    Certainly, it’s becoming crystal clear to the citizens of this once-(and future) great state, that the name Pawlenty and the philosophy that goes with it is synonymous with the word “mistake.

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/11/2011 - 09:54 pm.

    Pawlenty is a total loser. All I can say to him is “Big churls don’t cry.”

  6. Submitted by Jim Roth on 02/12/2011 - 07:00 am.

    And, by the way, what are Pawlenty’s foreign policy credentials?

  7. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 02/12/2011 - 07:41 am.

    “…with bullies might makes right. Strength makes them submit…”

    Now there’s a strange thought that destroys its own intention…and coming from a bully ex-governor, without a bully pulpit?

    Our born-again ex-gov ‘doth’ squeak doublespeak?

    Too bad we only had malls and parking lots…but no Liberation Square.

  8. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 02/12/2011 - 09:02 am.

    Actually, TPaw’s performance as governor was truly “amazing,” when one considers Merriam-Webster synonyms for amazing:

    Synonyms: surprising, astonishing, astounding, blindsiding, dumbfounding (also dumfounding), eye-opening, flabbergasting, jarring, jaw-dropping, jolting, shocking, startling, stunning, stupefying

    To which I would add: cataclysmic

  9. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/12/2011 - 09:41 am.

    A guy who had trouble working with others and running Minnesota now knows how to run America. So far he has claimed he can solve the US financial crisis. Anybody can do that just don’t fix anything or help anybody just like Pawlenty did. Solving the financial crisis can be done with a common sense and a thoughtful approach. Pawlenty had zero notable accomplishments in 8 years as Gov. Now he knows how to deal with the rest of the world and he couldn’t deal with the opposition in Minnesota. Running for president brings out the foolishness in those running. Pawlenty is still trying to find something that will stick and work for him. Pretty soon the rest of the country will have Paw-lenty of Pawlenty.

  10. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/12/2011 - 10:09 am.

    It’s a relief to know he’ll never make it to the presidency. His foreign policy apparently would be more bullying and “getting touch” on our enemies (although I’m not sure he knows who they are), leading us back into the era of Bush foreign policy–and look how well that went!

  11. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/12/2011 - 11:52 am.

    “Certainly, it’s becoming crystal clear to the citizens of this once-(and future) great state, that the name Pawlenty and the philosophy that goes with it is synonymous with the word “mistake.”

    Um, if anything, the historic republican take-over of the state legislature tells us that Dayton’s election was a clerical error.

  12. Submitted by Echo Lane on 02/12/2011 - 12:59 pm.

    I hope the citizens of Minnesota remember the REAL Tim Pawlenty when he fails to win the GOP nomination — a given — and sets his sites on the U.S. Senate — also a given.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/12/2011 - 03:35 pm.

    I wouldn’t underestimate Al Franken.

  14. Submitted by donald maxwell on 02/12/2011 - 04:03 pm.

    “On what planet” do they…?”

    Apparently Mr. Pawlenty is not aware of how and where those things are being done successfully right here on earth. He is dreadfully uninformed.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/12/2011 - 05:33 pm.

    Yeah and his great speech him a whopping 4% of the vote in the straw poll. The thing that always amazed me was Pawlenty’s celebration of being mediocre. Recently when criticized for the fiscal disaster he left behind, he actually defended himself by claiming to have been no better or worse than any other governor. Well, if he’s wasn’t an impressive governor, why would we vote to make him president?

  16. Submitted by Eva Young on 02/13/2011 - 06:52 pm.

    Poor ol’ Tim Pawlenty can’t catch a break. Chris Cillizza’s the Fix listed fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann as a “winner” at CPAC, while Pawlenty was conspictuous by his absence from the column.

  17. Submitted by William Pappas on 02/13/2011 - 07:39 pm.

    Pawlenty’s insistance on reinstating DADT is an example of just how out of touch and old school he really is. Just when we thought the neocon foreign policy debacles of the Bush had been accepted by just about everyone as the worst foreign policy ever charted by any President, Pawlenty resurrects them and gets all macho on us. OH yeah, he believes in torture too. Pawlenty doesn’t seem to get that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt coincided with the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq as Egypt was forced to suspend their participation in government due to the support generated for anything Muslim by America’s invasions. Irrelevant does not go far enough in describing Pawlenty’s contribution to any discussion of foreign policy issues.

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