Outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty Friday delivered a speech to the GOP convention in Minneapolis that was part farewell and part conservative stemwinder to pump up the crowd of party activists.
He said the delegates shouldn't assume that Minnesota is destined to be a liberal state, and that his administration helped "fundamentally change Minnesota" by putting it on a more conservative path. He urged the activists to take up the torch.
"I know that you'll make a good choice," he said of the upcoming endorsement for governor. He said his policies "will be washed away in six months" if DFLers take over the governor's office.
Pawlenty took credit for Minnesota gradually ranking lower than other states in taxation. "We've reduced state government spending in real terms," he told the crowd, which stood and applauded. "There are almost no other states that have reduced state governement spending as we have."
He rapped DFLers for their association with Education Minnesota, the large teachers union, which the governor has blamed for standing in the way of education reforms.
Pawlenty tweaked DFLers for calling themselves "progressives," saying, "They may be trying to lead you to believe they're for progress." Instead, he said, they advocate "solutions of Eastern Europe from a century ago."
Pawlenty sometimes adopted the style of black southern preachers in his speech, criticizing tax and spending policies of Democrats and repeatedly asking Republican party activists, "Have you had enough?"
"Yeah," yelled delegates as they picked up the refrain.
Delivering a line for critics of both gun control and mass transit, Pawlenty said, "More people have been killed by the Hiawatha Light Rail Line than by conceal-and-carry."