The former Minnesota governor paints a flattering self-portrait
Tim Pawlenty, truth teller or truth seller?
The newly official GOP presidential candidate said the word "truth'' no less than 16 times in his much-ballyhooed Monday announcement speech in Iowa titled "A Time for Truth.''
Pawlenty's self-portrait of a tough-love, eat-your-vegetables candidate looks like an effort to contrast himself with President Obama, whom he characterizes as a typical style-over-substance politician, as well as Republican rivals such as Mitt Romney, who has tried to finesse his health care record to appease conservatives, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, a fellow Minnesotan who has been guilty of rhetorical overreach more than once.
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"Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people,'' Pawlenty said at a rally in Des Moines. "Someone has to lead.... Leadership in a time of crisis isn't about telling people what you think they want to hear; it's about telling the truth.''
But even impartial observers of Pawlenty's record as Minnesota governor say that he exaggerates his fiscal accomplishments and glosses over the $5 billion deficit he left his successor, one of the biggest shortfalls in the country.
Pawlenty boasted on Monday of slashing state spending, and it's true that he rejected tax and spending increases and went so far as to use a state law that allows the governor to make unilateral, "unallotment" cuts -- without the Legislature's approval -- in certain fiscal emergencies.