Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke to a packed ballroom at Edina Country Club Friday, as he continued to edge closer to a return to Minnesota politics and another run for governor.
“We’ll have some updates on all of that shortly,” he said when asked about his plans. “Today’s not the day, but shortly.”
Friday was Pawlenty’s last day as CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying trade association for the nation’s largest banks, which paid him $2.7 million in 2016, according IRS documents.
Pawlenty, who is the last Republican to win a statewide election in Minnesota when he was re-elected in 2006, has begun fundraising for a potential bid but has not officially announced a run.
At the Edina event, the South St. Paul native showed off the political skills that launched him into statewide and then national politics, cracking jokes and fluidly discussing topics from health care to education without notes for 40 minutes before taking questions from the crowd.
Pawlenty gave a version of a speech he’s been giving for more than a year, outlining some of the consequences of new technology, including artificial intelligence, and saying it will make human lives richer and easier but also put many people out of work.
The key question, Pawlenty said, “Is there a place for me and my children in this growing, changing new economy that will give us a chance at a good life?”
Pawlenty went on to describe the benefits of technological change that would allow someone to send medical information from sensors on their smartphone to a super computer that could then diagnose them, within minutes and without having to visit a doctor’s office.
The only downside: The jobs of millions of people currently employed in medicine would become redundant.
“It’s one example of how these technologies are going to cause us the opportunity and the challenge to rethink the way we do everything,” he said.
Pawlenty said government needs to be ready to adapt to these changes, in education and job training especially, and is not currently doing so.
At the end of a talk laden with policy details and data, Pawlenty showed the everyman appeal that once earned him the moniker “Sam’s Club Republican,” with a complaint about University of Minnesota athletics: “Maroon and gold to my core. But I gotta say, we gotta figure out a way to do better.”