Things We've Learned About Tim Pawlenty This Week

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Tim Pawlenty, who recently concluded an eight-year run as governor of Minnesota, is going on a media blitz. Pawlenty will appear on Good Morning America, The Daily Show, and The View, among other programs, and he'll be creating buzz around two things: his new memoir, Courage to Stand, and the presidential campaign he may or may not be announcing soon. Here are a few of the more noteworthy things Pawlenty has said in the past week, and a few of the responses:

  • He Doesn't See the Need to Tone Down Rhetoric  In a radio interview with The Grandy Group, Pawlenty said that "grassroots politics is the politics of passion. It's fueled by energy and by concern and patriotism and a lot of other motives." He went on to say that "we could all benefit from some more civil and thoughtful discourse but I don't think you want to put a chilling effect on people's free speech rights--and say 'you know, you can't be passionate and say you can't be energetic.You can't be deeply moved by what you believe."

  • That Said, He Wouldn't Have Used Crosshairs  Pawlenty has distanced himself a number of times from Sarah Palin's infamous map, where she used either crosshairs or surveyor's symbols to mark the districts of representatives who voted for the health care bill. "There's no indication at present that those cross hairs, Fox News, any particular commentator or show or set of remarks or person was a motivating factor in [shooter Jared Loughner's] thoughts," Pawlenty told The New York Times. But when asked if he would have made a map like that, he said, "I wouldn't have done it." Pawlenty also told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "It wouldn't have been my style to put the crosshairs on there ... There is a line there as it relates to basic civility, decency and respect and not trying to invoke violence."

  • Response to Shooting Reminds Him of Bridge Collapse  In 2007, the St. Anthony Bridge in Minnesota collapsed, killing 13. People rushed to blame public figures for the tragedy. As Pawlenty put it in the Grandy Group interview: "When the bridge fell in Minneapolis, it was a terrible tragedy but while we were still rescuing people in the water, there was still an active rescue operation underway -- we had people saying, one legislator called one of my staff people and say 'we're going to use this to carve the governor up politically.'" Pawlenty sees the same thing happening now. Hot Air's Ed Morrissey calls this "funny, because I wanted to make that same point earlier."

  • He Might Be Running for President--Stay Tuned  "I'm not going to be cute about it. I'm seriously considering running for president. I'm going to make that announcement in a few months," Pawlenty told the St. Petersburg Times. He also mentioned to National Review's Jim Geraghty that if he's going to announce, he'll do it "sometime toward the end of the first quarter or the early part of the second quarter of this year, 2011."

  • He Doesn't Want Congress to Use Accountants  On Good Morning America, Pawlenty proposed making all U.S. legislators do their own taxes. "No help of an accountant, a lawyer or a tax specialist," he said. "If they can't do it, we give them a certification they can go get some help. But I'd like every one of those individuals to have to do their own taxes every year and live with the mindless burdens we put on the American people." Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway calls this a "dumb idea."

  • He Doesn't Want to Pigeonhole Latinos  The St. Petersburg Times asked Pawlenty about the Arizona immigration law. Pawlenty's response:

As we talk about immigration and the Latino vote, we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking the only thing they care about is immigration and jump to that first and only. As I talk to the Hispanic community and Latino community, they've got a lot of other concerns as well, which is are they going to have a job, are they going to get a good education, are they going to be able to afford college, are they going to be able to buy health care, what's the economy going to be like. They have national security concerns, so one of the messages I'm going to deliver down there is we don't need to have every discussion start and continue and end with just immigration and not pigeonhole either them or their concerns.

Pawlenty added that as far as the Arizona law is concerned, "we're a country based on the rule of law and we've got to have a country where the law is respected and enforced."

Some responses from the peanut gallery:

  • It's Unusual to Hear a Republican Criticizing Palin, notes Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly. "Notable Republican officials, especially those seeking national office, tend to be pretty reluctant to criticize the former half-term governor at all," Benen writes. He adds that Pawlenty "dipped his toe into the water this morning, ever so slightly, probably because he feels like he can get away with it, and perhaps as a test to see what kind of blowback there is, if any."

  • He's Trying to Butch Up, notes Rachel Maddow, who tracks the re-branding of Pawlenty as a macho dude in a recent MSNBC segment. Maddow plays clips of Pawlenty talking about hockey, fishing, and his "red-hot-smoking wife." She concludes: "Tim Pawlenty's he-man makeover team... have him inveighing against the Ground Zero mosque, and talking about how much he doesn't want to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell.' Have him dressed up like a cross between the paper towel man and Sarah Palin on his new book cover. I'm guessing that somebody is making a mint off of the advice that Tim Pawlenty is getting."

  • Come On, He's Definitely Going to Run  National Journal's Tim Alberta reads Pawlenty's memoir and sees little ambiguity. "If there was any doubt before, this book emphatically erases it: Pawlenty is going to run for president... Pawlenty pounds home a strong, simple message: 1) The federal government faces many of the exact challenges Minnesota's government faced when I took office. 2) In many cases, I solved them -- without raising taxes. 3) This makes me uniquely qualified to lead the country. Of course, Pawlenty doesn't actually say that last part, but it's clear to anyone tracing his politically linear message that he's leading readers to connect the dots."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.