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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Tim Pawlenty on his candidacy for the presidency

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HH: Joined now by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and now formal candidate for president. You can watch Tim Pawlenty’s introduction video at www.timpawlenty.com, also contribute, sign up for updates. Governor, great opening video, congratulations.

TP: Well, thanks, Hugh, we appreciate it very much, and thanks for the chance to come back and visit with you and all your listeners.

HH: Well, I’ve got a lot of cover with you, but I want to start with the very serious stuff. If you are elected president, what are you going to do about the Twins? They’re 15 games behind the Indians.

TP: (laughing) Well, yeah, we had high hopes this year for our Minnesota Twins. It’s a small market team, but they had a lot of injuries. You know, Morneau’s coming back with a bit of a concussion effect. He’s playing, but he’s not where he was a few years ago. Mauer’s been hurt, and we had our new person who came in from Japan got hurt. So it’s a lot of injuries, but we’ll get healed up.

HH: Boy, lots of injuries in May, 15 games. We’ll come back to that. Candid talk from you yesterday about ethanol, Governor, which got the attention of the Wall Street Journal, and many other people praising it as a gutsy move. How did it go over in Iowa?

TP: Well, when I delivered that line to end ethanol subsidies over time, nobody applauded. The gathering went silent. But it’s not just ethanol, Hugh, it’s a broader point, and that is the country is in big trouble, and we’ve got to tell the truth about what it’s going to take to fix it, and we’re going to have to make some very difficult decisions. And I’m just going to say it, because if we’re not willing to say it, and we’re not willing to do it, then we’re all just wasting our time. And I’m not wanting to waste the time, and we want to save the country. So we’re in Iowa talking about cutting ethanol subsidies, we’re in Florida today with seniors and young people, talking about what it’s really going to take to fix Social Security. We’re going to Wall Street to talk about what it’s really going to take to get their act in order. We’re going to Washington to tell the truth about federal government employees and pensions and benefits in the public sector, and down the list. We’re going to take it on directly, we’re going to tell the truth. The American people can handle it, and Barack Obama, by the way, refuses to do it. But I will.

HH: Now I heard you on Rush yesterday. And by the way, yesterday you were on Rush, and we get the day two Tim Pawlenty, Tim, not that we’re counting, Governor, not that we’re counting.

TP: Well, sometimes things have to stew a little bit before they’re really fully ready.

HH: All right, but I heard you say that you had done sort of the ethanol thing in Minnesota with special interests in that state. But I couldn’t quite hear what that was.

TP: Yeah, we had, you know, of course when I was governor over eight years, we had a big budget crisis right out of the gate when I came in, in 2003. We had a budget crisis, so I proposed then to reduce the ethanol subsidies in Minnesota, and we ultimately did peel them back. We had to compromise a bit with the Democrat legislature, but in a tough, financial time in Minnesota, we did it there, too.

HH: Is there any argument for ethanol anywhere, for subsidies of ethanol?

TP: Well, I don’t think we should pick on just ethanol, Hugh. The point is really, and we’ll have a full energy announcement here shortly, but the point is we can’t afford any of these subsidies anymore. And ethanol, you know, it can be at the top of the list, but we’ve got to go across all industries, all parts of the economy, and get the government out of crony capitalism, and get back to the point where the market decides whether a business is going to rise or fall. And that’s going to apply not just to ethanol, but it’s going to apply to energy more broadly. It’s going to be part of a broader reform, and it’s going to apply to a lot of other things, too.

HH: Now Governor, in eight years as governor, you appointed a lot of judges. I’ve talked to you about this before, including three appointments to the Minnesota Supreme Court, even though I was passed over each time. I point out you know about judges. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered the release of 30,000 plus felons in California. What’s your reaction to that decision? And what kind of judges would a President Pawlenty appoint?

TP: Well, I haven’t seen that decision, but it sounds preposterous to me, Hugh. I took a position that we’re not going to appoint ninnies to the court. In other words, I want people on the court that I know, based on rock solid perspective and information, are going to be strict constructionists. And that means they’re going to apply the law as written. And if there’s ambiguity or a lack of clarity, that they’ll have the humbleness and the modesty to say I’m not going to substitute my own judgment. And if it needs to be clarified, then send it back to the legislative and political process, and the executive branch, to clarify it. But I don’t want judges who see a gap in the law, and then see that as an opportunity to insert their own political preferences or personal preferences, or push forward some agenda on their own. Those are the kind of judges that I want, and I appointed in Minnesota, for the first time in a long time, maybe ever in the state, a conservative, a majority conservative Minnesota Supreme Court.

HH: Now on the administrative side, Governor Pawlenty, the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board has launched a war on Boeing. Today, they’ve launched an attack on Massey Coal, on Peabody Coal. Basically, they’re harnessing every aspect of the federal government to go after business, large and small, but mostly large. What’s your reaction to these sort of vendettas of the administrative agencies?

TP: Well, it’s a reflection of a broader problem, which is government stifling, regulating, burdening, taxing, slowing down businesses in this country. And it is not just you growing government’s footprint and running up their budgets. It’s doing something else that’s even more corrosive, Hugh. It’s discouraging the American spirit. And to have a federal agency tell an American company where they can and can’t do business in this country is outrageous. And we need to stand up and say that, and not mince words about it. That is an agency that is out of control, and this is a free country. We should have businesses be able to expand and grow wherever they’d like, for obvious reasons. And it is a reflection of the Obama administration, a government-centric, top down, heavy-handed, ham-fisted approach that is not good for the economy, and it’s not good for America.

HH: Now Tim Pawlenty, today one of the big Wall Street firms downgraded the expected growth in the country to 2.5% next year, as opposed to 3%. How in the world do you get the country moving again, 4.5, 5% growth, Reagan-era growth?

TP: You know, Hugh, that’s exactly right. The government’s own Congressional Budget Office predicts about 2% growth in our economy over the next ten years. That’s anemic. That’s pathetic. So we do have to reduce spending, but we should also start every discussion with growth, and talk about doubling or tripling the projected growth. And the answer to that is listen to the people who provide the growth. Listen to those entrepreneurs, inventers, innovators, dreamers, designers, the people who create jobs, build buildings, conduct research, commercialize it. And when you listen to them, and I do every day, all day, all across this country, what they say is this. Get the government off my back – in taxes, in energy costs, in regulation, in permitting, in litigation, and down the list, and do things to make my load lighter, not heavier, get me answers quicker, not take so long, and have a tax code that’s pro-growth and has a lighter burden on the economy, and much more. But the basic message is you’ve got to make, give me confidence in the future, not discourage me, and give me a lighter load from government, not a heavier load.

HH: And did you hear Netanyahu’s speech today? And what did you think about that, and the President’s speech on Israel last Thursday?

TP: Well, as to the President’s speech last Thursday, I thought it was naïve and dangerous. No American president has uttered the 1967 boundaries as the basis for the boundaries for a Palestinian state, and then uttered the word contiguous. That sets all sorts of concerns off. And there should be no daylight, Hugh, no daylight between us and Israel. If we have an American president who thinks we should be separate from Israel, or undermine their security interests, I think that is not only not in our best interest, but it’s not in the interest of security and peace in the Middle East. They’re one of our best allies in the region, and in the world, and we should stand shoulder to shoulder with them. And they are very concerned about what he said for good reason. It invites trouble, it invites instability, and we shouldn’t have a president who creates this kind of undermining dynamic with our important ally, Israel.

HH: Now Governor, when you were governor, you appointed me Master of the Horse and Commissioner of Hockery. You found an ambassador to Ireland yet if you win?

TP: You know, Hugh, we have to talk about that a little bit. But you know, again, that background check is still pending.

HH: (laughing) Governor Tim Pawlenty, always a pleasure. We look forward to many conversations during the course of your run. www.timpawlenty.com.

End of interview.

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