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MARION – Although surprise winner of the 2008 Republican Iowa precinct caucuses is set to announce whether he'll get into the 2012 race, Tim Pawlenty likes the looks of his competition.
“There's no front-runner,” the former two-term Minnesota governor told about 60 people at the Marion Public Library May 13 at about the same time it was announced former Arkansas governor and FOX News commentator Mike Huckabee will announce whether he'll join the 2012 race.
That gives Pawlenty time to introduce himself to Iowans, build an organization and raise some money, he said at the first of two Corridor appearances Friday. He'll be the keynote speaker at the Johnson County Republican Party's Reagan Dinner at 6 p.m. today at Clear Creek-Amana High School, 551 W. Marengo Road, Tiffin.
This two-day swing through Iowa is Pawlenty's 14th visit to the first-in-the-nation precinct caucus state to introduce himself to likely caucus-goers.
Pawlenty, who formed presidential exploratory committee nearly two months ago, had little to say about his rivals – by name, but emphasized that it's his record of getting things done that sets him apart.
“I'm running for president because this country is in trouble and I believe I can fix it,” he said.
It's Minnesotans who are left trying to “fix it” after eight years of Pawlenty as governor, according to Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He told reporters Friday that while Pawlenty is trying to reinvent himself Minnesotans, who “were left with the consequences of his reckless policies over the last eight years,” are “trying to clean up his mess.”
There will be other Republicans, Pawlenty said, “who will roll through town and many will say the same things about wanting to reduce taxes and wanting to reduce spending and wanting to have education reform and market-based health care reform and being tough on terrorists.”
“The question won't be whether there will be wild differences between the Republican candidates,” he said. “There will be some.
“But the real question's going to be who actually has the fortitude and the record to get these things done,” he said, noting that the campaign is not about “giving fancy speeches and offering failed amendments” and that he's not running for “entertainer-in-chief.” “This is about saving our country and the hour is late.”
In fact, Pawlenty's positions on many issues are similar to those of the competition. He wants to repeal “ObamaCare,” cut corporate taxes, throw out the tax code and replace it with something fairer, flatter and simpler. He wants to produce more American energy – although he's not sold on the future of ethanol. He wants to secure the border and enforce immigration laws. Pawlenty is prolife and opposes same-sex marriage.
It won't be easy to succeed on any one of those issues. The next president, Pawlenty said, “will have to be unpopular for awhile.”
“But it's not about easy,” Pawlenty said as he wrapped up his remarks before taking several questions. “Valley Forge wasn't easy. Going to the moon wasn't easy. Winning World War II wasn't easy.
“But we can do this,” he said. “We know what needs to be done. The white papers have all been done. The research has all been done. It's just a question do we have the fortitude to actually do it.
“When you look at my record in Minnesota, you'll see it's a record of getting those kinds of things done,” Pawlenty said.
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