Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty topped off his week-long string of TV appearances with an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” where Pawlenty foreshadowed the argument he'll try to craft in a potential 2012 run — and host Chris Wallace brought up the holes opponents will poke in Pawlenty's narrative.
Finishing a TV blitz to promote his new book “Courage to Stand,” Pawlenty still stopped at “seriously considering” when asked about his presidential ambitions. But he made one comment that hints at his strategy preparing for a 2012 run after Wallace brought up his low standing in Iowa polls.
Pawleny argued it was still early — pointing out that the 2008 winner Mike Huckabee began at 2 percent — but he also said: “For somebody like me, you have to do very well, win or do very well, in Iowa."
Wallace spent most of Sunday's interview challenging Pawlenty on his fiscal record during his eight years as governor.
On raising the cigarette tax 75 cents per pack to end the state's government shutdown: “Governor, didn't you blink?” Wallace said.
“We had a compromise, and I picked the one thing that was least harmful to economic growth of the options we had in front of us with a Democratic legislature,” Pawlenty responded.
On supporting McCain's position in favor of the TARP bailout in 2008 but opposing it in his book: “You didn't believe what you were saying back then?”
“As you play tape it says, 'he believes,'” Pawlenty said, explaining he was “speaking as a spokesperson for Sen. McCain.”
On leaving the state with a $6 billion deficit?
“This is not unique to Minnesota,” Pawlenty said. “That deficit, projected for the upcoming two years, assumes a 27 percent increase in state spending. That is preposterous, it is irresponsible, it is reckless.”
Wallace also asked Pawlenty his opinion of the health care law that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's ushered in, but Pawlenty avoided criticizing one of the early 2012 frontrunners.
“I'm going to abide by Ronald Reagan's 11th Amendment,” Pawlenty said. “I'll tell you what I believe — I'm not going to criticize Mitt Romney. The Massachusetts plan speaks for itself. We took a different approach in Minnesota, and it's working.”