Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics

Tim Pawlenty Comes Home

Bookmark and Share

At a University of Minnesota event, Pawlenty discusses moderate Republicans, political compromise, and why Americans get the candidates they deserve

timpawlenty10.jpgFormer Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty proclaimed, "I'm not here to give a partisan speech" at a talk before the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota on Monday.

It was a rare public talk on substantive policy in his home state since Pawlenty exited the presidential race in mid-August of last year after finishing a distant third in the Iowa Straw Poll.

And for most of his 35-minute talk on "Restoring America's Greatness" Pawlenty held true to these words in what was a policy-rich presentation on how reforms in entitlements, energy, education, and enterprise are crucial for the United States to reach that end.

In fact, Pawlenty only made two references to the president during the entire speech (on rejecting Simpson-Bowles and Obamacare), and none to the Republican presidential candidate he has endorsed, Mitt Romney.

But is the national political environment hospitable to implement the kind of bold changes in the area of "the four Es" Pawlenty described in his talk?

In a moderated conversation with Humphrey professor Larry Jacobs after his speech, Pawlenty remarked he could have added a fifth "E" to his speech: elections.

And, according to Pawlenty, the kinds of leaders America picks will go a long way in determining whether or not true change will come.

In short, America is getting what it deserves.

"What we have now is a vast majority of the public has decided not to participate in the early stages of party or electoral selection, vetting, gate-keeping process, so this has been delegated, if you will, to a relatively modest slice of the population on the right or the left. They perform the gate-keeping function. Everybody else shows up in November and says, 'Why don't we have better choices?'"

Implied in that statement, of course, is that Pawlenty himself would have been a better choice among the 2012 GOP field.

And many moderate Republicans might agree, and several did bemoan his early exit out of the presidential race, particularly after seeing the Republican electorate shift quickly from Romney to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich to Romney to Gingrich to Romney to Rick Santorum and back to Romney again during a six-month stretch.

In addition to a large swath of potential voters simply staying at home during primaries and caucuses, Pawlenty attributes part of the problem of the types of candidates the general election ballot has to offer to a "Complex that's developed in politics and entertainment and news that are fusing together in a way where it begins to elevate entertainment above policy."

Pawlenty himself was certainly never charged with being the most dynamic or controversial figure in the Republican field.

Rewarding such candidates over those campaigning on serious substantive policies does not benefit those who are willing to bridge the gap between the two increasingly divisive parties.

But can there be a coming together of political leaders like in the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill when political parties would compromise to do what was best for the country?

Pawlenty is skeptical.

"Parties and elected officials shy away from compromise or pragmatism and stick very strongly to the positions that they have without any real desire or willingness to find some common ground...We have an industry around the right and left that does not reward anything other than the right and left's perspective."

So what should moderate Republicans do?

"I think all Republicans, all conservatives, anybody who cares about these issues should participate. The world is run by those who show up. The fuel of grassroots politics is passion...You can't just say, 'I wish it were different, please grant me an entitlement of influence.' You have to show up and fight for it and work for it...People bemoan whether their perspective, or policy perspective or piece of the coalition doesn't prevail, well, the answer is you've got to marshal your forces and go prevail."

So, given this divisive political environment, how will the country ever enact the kind of bold reforms Pawlenty believes are necessary to ensure America's greatness will be restored?

"One side or the other is going to have to substantially prevail to get quantum change, and I hope it's my side obviously."

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Battleground States of the Century: Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin
Next post: Fischer Edges Bruning in 2nd Closest Nebraska GOP US Senate Primary in History

1 Comment

  • Pawlenty: "I hope it's my side obviously."

    Which of those sides would that be? The religio-crazies who deny evolution, climate change, birth control, and would jail medical doctors who perform abortions for victims of rape, incest, or the health of the mother? Or, the right-wing corporate moguls who buy and eat congressmen & senators like cattle and use their extreme wealth to flood the media with lies and shameless attacks on... well, often enough on people of their own party, like Pawlenty? Or, the 1 or 2 percent left in the Republican Party that still can think clearly about civic interests and who care about something more than their own selfish wants?

    History shows us only three ways out of this mess: (1) go to war against a foreign power so everybody can come together against a common enemy (War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish-American War, W.W. I and II); (2) start a civil war to sort out which moral, economic, and political philosophy prevails; or (3) drain away all the effective leaders from the increasingly unrealistic, unpopular minority party let it wither on the vine (Federalists, Whigs, Bull Moose).

    Only the last option is rational in our time, but it will take more courage, apparently, than Mr. Pawlenty possesses to start the process.

  • Leave a comment

    Remains of the Data

    Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

    Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

    Political Crumbs

    Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

    Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.

    Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

    Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


    Humphrey School Sites
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Foreign affairs
    Race and ethnicity
    Third parties