Tim Pawlenty: The Esquire Interview

In his first major interview since launching his political-action committee (Freedom First PAC), Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty discusses the need for Republican party leadership, explaining where his party has landed since losing in 2008. "I think I'll have something to say about that."

But when will he say it? He'll soon start campaigning for midterm elections, and many expect him to run for president in 2012. Pawlenty tells Esquire executive editor Mark Warren that he'll make that decision in late 2010 or early 2011, and is focused on spending the next two years spreading his "mainstream conservative" message across the country. "I have a pretty clear sense of the values and principles that have made this country great," Pawlenty says. "And I think the country needs that kind of leadership and insight and perspective."

In the interview, which appears in the March issue of Esquire (on sale now), Pawlenty explains why it's him -- not Sarah Palin nor Dick Cheney -- who should come to speak for the Republican party. In doing so, the governor speaks candidly about what happened to his party in the wake of President George W. Bush, whether the stimulus package was necessary, and what he sees as the future for the health care plan, President Barack Obama, and, most importantly, America itself...