Gov. Tim Pawlenty will talk about the federal budget, health care and foreign affairs when he speaks at the Republican National Committee summer meeting today in San Diego. The speech will be at 2 p.m. CDT.
An unnamed Pawlenty adviser previewed the topics for CBS News:
On the budget: “The Democrats say we can’t restrain spending in a recession, but look at what Governor Pawlenty did in Minnesota. In his six and half years as governor, he balanced the budget every year without raising taxes, including eliminating a $4.5 billion deficit in 2005 and a $4.8 billion deficit in 2009,” the adviser said.
On foreign affairs: “Having just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, Governor Pawlenty believes are troops are ready to win. It’s up to our political leaders to give them the tools and support to do it,” the adviser said.
And on health care: “The health care debate in Washington is more than a difference between the two parties. Obamacare replaces independence with dependence, and increase costs with the false excuse of reducing costs. Reform must include incentives for citizens to be wise health care consumers. That’s what Governor Pawlenty did in Minnesota, successfully savings costs,” added the adviser.
The speech, along with Pawlenty’s higher national profile after saying he won’t seek a third term as governor, has CBS wondering about his future (along with the rest of us).
What does all of this mean for Pawlenty’s future? Is he setting himself up for a presidential run? And is he even a viable candidate?
“Pawlenty has a few advantages that, in combination, no other GOP candidate can boast,” Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told CBS News.
“He’s won a Democratic state twice for governor — though with less than 50 percent. He is from the North rather than the South, thereby broadening the party’s geographic appeal. And he has a blue-collar background, combating the wealthy image of Republicans.”
Former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., who is close to both Pawlenty and Romney, adds, “There’s a benefit in having a relatively new face out there.”
“Tim is the newest face out there. He didn’t run [for president] before, he’s a brand new face. There’s an advantage to that,” Weber told CBS News.
Pawlenty’s record of being fiscally conservative helps, too, adds Weber, who predicts that “there will an ideological debate over taxes spending and the expansive role of government” in the 2012 race.
Perhaps, even more importantly, he’s not creating controversy as he jumps onto the national stage, unlike some others in his party.
Tom Pugmire, of MPR, also looks at Pawlenty’s national aspirations.
There’s growing speculation that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be a GOP candidate for president in 2012, and a speech he’s schedule to give in San Diego Thursday represents a key opportunity for the Minnesota governor to raise his national profile and make his pitch to the party faithful.
Struggling political parties need new messages and new messengers, and Gov. Pawlenty plans to offer both when he speaks at the Republican National Committee’s 2009 Summer Meeting. Pawlenty wouldn’t get into specifics during a recent session with reporters, but he did say that he planned to talk about improving the GOP.