MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan (CNN) – Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty - widely rumored to be considering a run for the presidency in 2012, and who's been making the rounds on the cable news shows and various states' political events in recent months - defended his nationwide appearances Saturday and said that he plans to continue.
"The point is, I have the time and the energy and the ability to make some time to speak out to issues that I think are important to my state and to the country," Pawlenty said at the biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan. He added that since this particular event fell on a Saturday he likely "wouldn't be doing the state's business today back in Minnesota" anyway.
The Democratic National Committee has set up a Web page devoted to "calling out" Pawlenty on what the DNC calls his healthcare reform "lies." The DNC even posted Pawlenty's main office phone number and encouraged visitors of the site to call and ask the governor to stop "lying" and "playing politics."
Pawlenty chalked it up to mere "politics," saying simply, "It's what they do."
In a brief interview with CNN, Pawlenty said that he would "eventually" be in Iowa - traditionally the first caucus state - for political events, but also stated that it would likely be in his role as vice chair of the Republican Governors' Association "as opposed to anything else."
Pawlenty also had a few words for President Barack Obama on the health care debate.
"President Obama said in his joint session of Congress he's going to call people out," Pawlenty said. "So we want to call him out back and say, 'Quit bankrupting the country. Stop spending money we don't have. Stop taxing us into oblivion.' "
He finished by saying to the president, "The next time you have a chance to talk to young people, maybe you should apologize for the bucketloads of debt that he's dumping on to their heads and shoulders."