Gov. Tim Pawlenty, coming off a high-profile speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), said he thought he did “reasonably well” in Friday's much-anticipated appearance, which played to somewhat mixed reviews.
The Minnesota Republican raised eyebrows in the capital with his crack about Tiger Woods’ marital problems (“I think we should take a page out of [Woods’ wife’s] playbook and take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government in this country"). But he generally failed to electrify the conservative audience as much as some of the better-known speakers, including likely 2012 GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, and Minnesota's own U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Asked about the speech as he left the White House Monday morning, where the nation’s governors met with President Obama, Pawlenty said, “I thought it went reasonably well.”
So ended a fairly heady weekend for the potential 2012 presidential aspirant. Besides the CPAC event, where he finished 4th in a presidential straw poll (with 6 percent), Pawlenty got in a fundraiser for his Freedom First PAC with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and a one-on-one Sunday morning with NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press (where the 9-iron joke got a little workout).
But that’s not all.
At a governor’s ball at the White House Sunday night, Pawlenty was seated to the right of First Lady Michelle Obama. And Monday morning, it was off to a National Governors Association (NGA) confab with the president, who pointedly noted that most of the governors (that would include Pawlenty) closed their budget gaps with the oft-criticized stimulus money from Washington. (This has been a big Dem talking point for about a week now).
Pawlenty emerged from the White House with a cell phone glued to his ear and did not take part in an NGA press briefing outside the West Wing.
In a brief chat on the driveway– with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour ushering him toward the gate – Pawlenty reported nothing new or surprising in the governors’ meeting with Obama.
“It was the stuff everybody is paying attention to,” Pawlenty said. “Jobs, the economy, health care, and education came up a fair amount…”