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Pawlenty: GOP U.S. Sen. Snowe better than a Democrat but...

Posted by: under National campaigns Updated: November 3, 2009 - 3:01 PM

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Big tent GOPer Gov. Tim Pawlenty perhaps became a former big tent GOPer this morning during an on MSNBC  . He said the former GOP candidate for New York's special congressional race didn't "minimum standard" for a Republican candidate but added Minnesota U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and former U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad are moderates who may be acceptable.

"There's a range of behavior and issue positions that you can take," Pawlenty said. (Last week, the governor backed the Conservative Party candidate in that New York election over the Republican candidate. Over the weekend, the Republican dropped out and endorsed her former Democratic rival.)

Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, of Maine, might have more problems meeting the standard, Pawlenty suggested.

"We want Olympia Snowe in the big tent but she can't say she's a Republican and then vote against the Republican position much of the time," Pawlenty said. The governor also said that Snowe's position on health care reform in the Senate has made many Republicans "mad."

"If she disagrees with everything, that's a problem," he said.

"Do you want Olympia Snowe in your Republican party?"MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked. "Are you glad that Olympia Snowe is in your party?"

Pawlenty scrupulously avoided giving a yes or no to that question.

"I'd much rather have a Republican in Maine than a Democrat that's for sure," Pawlenty said.

His lack of response elicited a quick follow up response on MSNBC.

"That was as close to standing in front of a bunch of stuff with bunting and saying 'I'm running,'" Jon Meacham, Newsweek Editor said in analyzing Pawlenty's remarks.

The analysis also examined the governor's use of the phrase "range of behavior" and his question of those who deviate from Republican conservative principles.

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