June 2nd, 2009
06:19 PM ET
5 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. Peter

    This man is a fool...

    June 2, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  2. For The Record

    For the Record:

    Barack's name is not Barry. Barry was an unofficial name given to him so that he would "fit in". His birthname is Barack, he took his real name back, and now we claim that name as someone we admire as our 44th president.

    So all you Barry name callers, get over yourselves. No one cares what you think about him. In five months, he's done more good for the country than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did for eight long nightmarish years.

    I'm sure it gets your goat that he's more popular and smarter.

    Obama 2012

    June 2, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. T.O

    Smart Politician...he knows he has no chance of winning his re-election because his poll numbers after the Coleman debacle has dropped like rains from the sky...and he knows loosing re-election would damage his chances of running for the presidential nomination in 2012.

    Either way, he has no shot. Its Obama 2012. With increase in the voting blocs, and Americans paying more attention to policies, the GOP is a dead horse and dont be fooled by folks like Newt who wouldnt run for GOP nomination because he knows better too. Obama is NO Jimmy Carter and we are behind him 100%.

    Lets get health care passed this year and off to Immigration...Green Energy and Education...YES WE CAN

    June 2, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. JT

    Pawlenty would make an incredibly WEAK national candidate for any party . This guy does not have the strength to stop one of the biggest circus shows going on in his state since November – the Franken-Coleman fiasco he is letting drag on in order to grand stand at the great expense of the citizens of his state.

    Weak, weak, weak, and watered down prospect for a candidate.

    June 2, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Had It

    Less is better -- hmmm – guess he has done a fantasstic job – he did the least he could and still get all his benefits paid by the State.

    June 2, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. jeff

    lets see if cnn will post here cnn is the worst when it comes to telling the truth and only prints pro obama comments

    June 2, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. GOPer

    Liar

    June 2, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Frank, Las Vegas

    He's not going again for Gov. because he'll be in a tough race and might lose, but he wants to run for president? Now just how stupid is that? If you can't win your own state with people who know you, why on earth would anyone else vote for you? Or maybe you can't win your own state Because the people know you! Typical republican double talk. The people of MN don't like his policies, so he thinks America might? He'll go no place in the primaries and then he'll be gone. Maybe Fix News will hire him too.

    June 2, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. Michael Glenn

    We've had Pawlenty of Republicans in office.
    It's official, the Democrats rule America, and most likely will continue to from here on out.

    June 2, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Pawlenty of Nothing should definitely "rule out" a White House bid – his own state won't even vote for him. He never would have won re-election for Governor (he barely won last time, and I wish we'd had a recount back then) – so a failed Governor who has destroyed Minnesota's budget now thinks he's qualified to be president?

    June 2, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. Gracie

    Pawlenty is NOT a good LIAR. He's so predictable. What's stupid is that NOBODY is buying this garbage.

    June 2, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. Max

    I think think that signing Senator Franken into his rightful seat in congress will really help him with Democrats who see him as too conservative, should he choose to run in three years. Pawlenty has a way to go before being viewed as center-leaning, but finally ending this seven-months long race to the senate can be a first step to his success with that side of American politics.

    June 2, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  13. Carole

    They won't vote him back in!!!! LIke duh, but he thinks his pea brain can go up against a real brain in the White House now? These Repugs kill me.

    June 2, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Emma, San Jose

    What does he have to offer as President that other GOP folks don't have, such as, McCain, Jindal, Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Limbaugh. They all need a new plan that is not old GOP.

    June 2, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. I am Newt's ex wife

    You are running for President....c'mon .......you can be the next Mitt Romney....all flash!

    June 2, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. Ted Tartaglia

    This partisan loser should run for the presidential nomination so he can be thoroughly repudiated.

    He should be ashamed of himself for letting the Minnesota senatorial election drag on and on. He should simply sign the certificate and let Franken begin to represent the people of Minnesota. He is just another Republican wingnut.

    June 2, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. T.O

    Smart Politician…he knows he has no chance of winning his re-election because his poll numbers after the Coleman debacle has dropped like rains from the sky…and he knows loosing re-election would damage his chances of running for the presidential nomination in 2012.

    Either way, he has no shot. Its Obama 2012. With increase in the voting blocs, and Americans paying more attention to policies, the GOP is a dead horse and dont be fooled by folks like Newt who wouldnt run for GOP nomination because he knows better too. Obama is NO Jimmy Carter and we are behind him 100%.

    Lets get health care passed this year and off to Immigration…Green Energy and Education…YES WE CAN

    IS CNN GOING TO POST MY COMMENTS

    June 2, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  18. sonny

    His decision making is suspect. This shows in his handling of his state's senatorial race. Because of this, he is not presidential material.

    June 2, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. mary

    I hope he rules "everything" out. Or, maybe I don't. He's a vindictive person – I have heard inside stories on how he treats people, especially those who oppose him. He has not one ounce the character of a Bobby Jindal. Republicans, beware of Tim.

    June 2, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. rob

    he's too conservative to win. We need a moderate republican who favors science over idealogy.

    June 2, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. Larry

    He hasn't any idea, what he's is doing ...

    His party is in a complete shambles

    He might even be a democrat in the near future

    Who knows ...

    Why do most intelligent people pass right over articles like this, in search of something worth reading

    What year is it, he's looking at, as if it were tomorrow ... ????? 2012 ?

    June 2, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  22. Larry

    Just look at the mans face ...

    He's a liar, he's a crook

    The eyes can say so much ...

    Another George Bush WANNABE ...

    BUY me in boys ... I'll always do what is best ... FOR THE PARTY

    June 2, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  23. Joe

    It's time for Gov. Pawlenty to certify Al Franken as the winner of the senatorial seat in Minnesota. If he can't make such a simple honest decision to do what is obviously right, then I don't want to hear anything about him running for higher office.

    June 2, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  24. Betty from Arizona

    Pawlenty needs to finish one job before he considers another. Like seating the other Dem in the election that happened in Nov. The people spoke then and they need to speak now by Recalling this guy or impreaching, which ever. He is thinking he is above the law in Minnesota and will continue to think the same thing should he ever run for Pres or a sickening thought, was actually elected.
    Just a thought people, but you are under represented and you are allowing it to continue.

    June 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  25. Larry

    If Coleman was ahead by even 10 votes ... PAWLENTY would have signed off on the Sanate seat a long time ago ...

    But NO ,,, The Party Of NO ... stalls Frankens right to his seat in the Senate as long as these bums can

    And this guy thinks he's Presidential stock ... LAUGH OUT LOUD ...

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ....

    Stop Your Killing Me ....

    BWWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    June 2, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
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