Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who’s considering a 2012 race for president, said Thursday that – if Republicans take control of the U.S. House – they’d better force President Barack Obama to veto a few bills before participating in any compromises.
The Republican governor was at the Capitol to meet with state legislators, including House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who hosted a session with reporters.
Asked what the public could expect from Republicans if they take control of all or part of Congress, Pawlenty said:
”I think the country is in big trouble, and bold and courageous actions are going to need to be taken. I think that’s what the people are looking for. I think it’s really important that people campaign like they’re going to govern, and govern like they campaign.
“Because if you don’t do that, the public understands that’s a form of hypocrisy. And that’s why they don’t like politicians.
“So you’ve got Republicans all over the country making certain promises and statements about what they want to do and what they’re priorities are – it’s important that they do it….”
The Republican governor, who has been required to work with a Democratically controlled state legislature, conceded that the task will be harder if the U.S. Senate remains in Democratic hands. Even so, Pawlenty said:
”I don’t think they should go in there and pull their punches or say, because President Obama is opposed to something we’re not going to try.”
But should House Republicans be prepared to accept something less than what they want? Said Pawlenty:
”As long as the president is still there to veto things, they’re not likely to get everything they want. But they’ve got to try their very hardest and they’ve got to be able to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. I think they’ve got to at least be true to their word, and send him stuff that they campaigned on and believe in.
“If he vetoes it, and they don’t have the votes to override it, then you’ve got to go to Plan B.”
Pawlenty said election results next week could determine the fate of the Bush tax cuts in Congress:
”There are some conservative Democrats who support that perspective and after the election next Tuesday there may be a lot more. So I think you may find the extension of the Bush tax cuts will not only be deemed to be wise, but you’re going to see increasing bipartisan support for it.
“And the question for President Obama is, are you going to sign that, if you get a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats who send him an extension of all of them – not just some of them. Then is he willing to be constructive and sign the bill?”
Pawlenty said he’ll decide early next year whether to jump into the presidential contest. Ralston, who sat beside the Minnesota governor, was asked whether he was ready to declare his support.
The House speaker said he’s still shopping. Mitt Romney late last month. Newt Gingrich hosts a Gwinnett County rally this afternoon. But Ralston dropped clues that he intends to shy away from a Sarah Palin-style populist:
”What’s important to me is that, if we are successful Tuesday, that we nominate someone in 2012 who has been successful, who can appeal to a wide range of voters, who’s done it under difficult circumstances.
“I like Governor Pawlenty very, very much. Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to visit with him further – and others. It’s early.
“But the important thing is, I think, that this is not about giving great speeches and firing crowds up. This is about us putting forth a candidate that can win and that can govern. We flunked that test in the mid-‘90s, and I don’t want to see us do that again.”
As for the governor’s race: ”I really believed, through this past weekend, that we would have a runoff,” Ralston said. But based on his intuition and data that he’s seen recently, the House speaker is predicting that Deal will win outright on Tuesday.
Even if he’s wrong, Ralston said, Deal will still become the next governor on Nov. 30.