June 2nd, 2009
06:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Pawlenty: 'I'm not ruling anything in or out'

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has 19 months left in his second term.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has 19 months left in his second term.

(CNN) – Tim Pawlenty announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term as governor, a decision that gives the Minnesota Republican room to start plotting a possible White House bid in 2012.

"I'm not ruling anything in or out," he said, when asked if he plans to seek the presidency.

Pawlenty, ticking through some poll numbers that show his approval rating hovering above 50 percent in a Democratic-leaning state, boasted that he "absolutely could have won, and would have won, a third term." But he said being governor "should not be a permanent position for anyone."

"When it comes to how long someone should stay in an elected position, a little less is better than too much," he said.

At a nearly hour-long press conference at the state capital in St. Paul, Pawlenty said he came to his decision in the last few days, but that he had given it much thought over the last six months.

Although he told reporters he is unsure of his future plans, two conservative activists in the Washington area who are close with Pawlenty and his team say the governor is actively thinking about the 2012 election.

The sources said that by leaving after two terms, Pawlenty will be able to go out on top by having closed a $4.6 billion budget gap without tax increases favored by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Pawlenty did so using the line item veto and a process called "unalottment" that allows the governor to reduce spending under certain circumstances - something they said no other GOP governor has done.

The sources noted that campaign finance laws in Minnesota are restrictive and would would make it difficult to operate on a national stage.

As for how he will carry out the rest of his term, another GOP consultant who informally advises the governor said: "I think you will see an ideas factory out of the Pawlenty administration over the next 19 months. If some of those ideas are of interest to the American people, and the Republican Party, great."

Pawlenty called on the GOP to work harder if it hopes to defeat Democrats in future elections.

"It's got to be a party that accomodates Colin Powell and Rush Limbaugh if we're going to be successful," he said. "It can't be either or, it's both. It's got to be addition, not subtraction, and I am happy to help with that effort."

The two-term Republican governor has in the past pressed his party to a better job appealing to what he terms "Sam's Club voters" - lower and middle income voters who have drifted to the Democratic party in recent years for economic reasons but remain culturally conservative.

Pawlenty was first elected governor in 2002 and squeaked out a re-election victory in 2006, when Republicans across the country were hammered in the midterm elections. He was on John McCain's shortlist as a running mate in last year's election.

The governor has come under pressure lately to sign a certificate of election allowing Al Franken to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, if Minnesota's state supreme court rules in favor of Franken and against Republican Norm Coleman in the state's marathon Senate battle.

Shortly after his announcement, the Democratic Governors Association promised to help elect a Democrat to succeed Pawlenty next fall.

"Tim Pawlenty has been using Minnesotans as the testing ground for his extreme conservative beliefs - and now the launching pad for his national campaign," said Nathan Daschle, the DGA's executive director. "It's time they got a common sense, pragmatic leader who focuses on people above politics."


Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    Here comes another one just like the other one! Move over Teflon Rom – there's more mediocrity in town.

    June 2, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Texas Conservative Dems for Perry 2010

    I expect former United States Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota) to take back the Minnesota Governor's Residence at Saint Paul in 2010, DEMOCRATIC GAIN now that Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) is not seeking reelection to a 3rd unprecedented four-year term next year due to horrible approval ratings, massive budget shortfall, and a likely 2012 campaign for the White House.

    June 2, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Simmy

    Let him throw his tin hat into the ring.....If Thompson and Rudy G. had the galls to try why not he? He won't win, but the experience might help him for a future bid....2030

    June 2, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    Who wouldn't want a President with a face only Rick Santorums mother could love.

    June 2, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Presidential run? Don't make me laugh. And how many times is CNN going to talk about this guy in one day? He needs to worry about seating Sen. Franken so the people of Minnesota can have proper representation in the U.S. Senate. Even if he decided to run for office in 2012, I don't see him making it out of Iowa. I hope the republican ticket is either Palin/Romney, Romney/Huckabee, Huckabee/Palin, Palin/Gingrich. Any ticket you choose, it's another 4 years of President Obama.

    June 2, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    How about when this creep denied money to the retrofiting of bridges, anybody remember that?

    June 2, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. Republican from Alerbami

    I say ok only if Rush says its ok.

    June 2, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. No Way

    This slimebucket wants to be president. That's why he's not ruling anything out. I think he should crawl back under a rock with the Governor of South Carolina...Sanford or Stanford, whatever. We don't want racists as our president. Send these bozos packing.

    June 2, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  9. steel

    and we voters will remember how pawlenty
    refused to confirm a democratically elected
    representative to washington. subverting the
    elected and the electors of representation with
    all of that annoying taxation...

    June 2, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "I'm not ruling anything in or out,"

    That's ok...we'll do that for you in November 2012, you conservative twit.

    June 2, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  11. Belle1

    I am a Democrat, but I think there are really only 4 or 5 candidates for President in 2012.

    1. Gov. of North Dakota
    2. Gov. of Wyoming
    3. Gov. of Utah
    4. Gov. of AK

    2 Democrats; 2 Republicans. 4 States in this Union that are NOT financially in trouble.

    We actually need someone in office that knows how to balance a budget. President Obama has already said the debt is not sustainable and we (USA) are out of money now.

    June 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  12. petena

    Start packing your bags Pawlenty as you will lose in 2012. Obama is a shoe-in.

    June 2, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Lori

    Yeah, Pawlenty. I can just see it now... masses of women voters, young voters, and ethnic minorities voters running to the polls to vote for you or any other Republican for that matter (lol). Just another Republican that President Obama can easily beat in 2012.

    Hey Republicans, there seem to be signs of a recovery in the economy- stock market, housing sales surge, auto sales up, etc. Why aren't you blogging to give President Obama credit for that as you do when there is negative economic news? Oh, that's right. You enjoy seeing your fellow Americans suffer in hopes that we blame President Obama for it and not the real culprits of this mess like Bush and the Republicans (nice try!).

    June 2, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Shirley In California Now On The Fence Re Obama

    Loser.

    June 2, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Rob

    Pawlenty is a very good man...a good conservative with good morals. His state will miss him and I hope he comes back with a new coming!

    June 2, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Are we going to have to put up with FOUR YEARS of campaigning out the the Republicans? We all thought TWO years was too long. Would they all just go sit down somewhere and wait? Everyday, we have to hear something ugly from Romney, McCain, Huckabee and Palin about every move President Obama makes. Are we going to have another one added to the list?

    I for one am sick and tired of their whining and obstructionism. Give us all a break.

    June 2, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. Bob

    He's slimy! Yuck

    June 2, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. Moderate Democrat

    That's all he ever does, NOTHING, just like all other republicans. He hasn't done a darn thing for his state, leaves it completely short changed by his complete and utter lack of compassion for the people who elected him. REFUSES to ever make ANY decisions other then to 'not do anything'.

    Republicans, the laziest bunch of dirt bags this country has ever seen.

    June 2, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. dmg

    Can this man speak and or think for himself?. Or is he a Rush Lush like the rest of them?.

    June 2, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. Mark Eades

    The Republicans don't have an icecube's chance in Hell of unseating Obama in 2012, and any candidate they choose will be but a sacrificial lamb. Therefore let them choose Sarah Palin, so at least we can all enjoy a good show. Pawlenty is such a yawning bore.

    June 2, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. RONNIE

    Why would anyone vote for Tim Pawlenty a republician?Look what Bush did while in the White House!Even that evil Dick Cheney says Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 unlike what Bush said.What a liar!

    June 2, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  22. Gus The Willie

    Another Keystone Cop trying to stay on the paddy wagon. If he is itching to use the toilet in the White House, he might have to settle for the outhouse back in Minnesota. With the Republicans in the minority all over the country, thanks to Gingrich and Limbough, it would be a heck of a way to end a political career.

    June 2, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Jean

    Governor Palin Statement on William Long

    "The stories of two very different lives with similar fates crossed through the media's hands yesterday – both equally important but one lacked the proper attention. The death of 67-year old George Tiller was unacceptable, but equally disgusting was another death that police believe was politically and religiously motivated as well.

    William Long died yesterday. The 23-year old Army Recruiter was gunned down by a fanatic; another fellow soldier was wounded in the ambush. The soldiers had just completed their basic training and were talking to potential recruits, just as my son, Track, once did.

    Whatever titles we give these murderers, both deserve our attention. Violence like that is no way to solve a political dispute nor a religious one. And the fanatics on all sides do great disservice when they confuse dissention with rage and death."

    Governor Sarah Palin

    June 2, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. HB

    Yeah. Good luck with that.

    June 2, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  25. P Alfonso

    I am not voting for this guy. The Republican Party needs to go back to its roots and bring our country back together. The Progressive politicians of both parties have ruined our country.
    The way forward is to get government out of our lives. All these guys want is more power and more taxation.
    We need to go back to our Constitution and our root that make us great.

    June 2, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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