Washington (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty appears to be distancing himself from the Bush administration and some national Republicans in an Esquire Magazine interview published Friday.
Pawlenty, a Republican and two-term governor, said in the wide-ranging interview that the Republican party "blew it" and "got fired for a reason."
"The Republicans had their shot not long ago to address the real needs and concerns of everyday Americans, and they blew it.... We got fired for a reason," Pawlenty told Esquire. "We just lost our way. You can't say that your hallmark issues are that we're going to control spending, keep taxes low, and make government accountable, and then go to Washington and do the opposite.... Let's face it, when Republicans had total control over it, they didn't do what they said they were gonna do."
Pawlenty told Esquire the difference between rhetoric and action had consequences. "We got our cans kicked – for two election cycles in a row. The marketplace measurement in politics is something called an election. It's a pretty good barometer – it's transparent, it's numerical, it's objective. It gives you a pretty good measure of what your customers think of you. And in 2006 and 2008, the marketplace was telling the Republicans, 'We prefer the products and services of your competitors.'"
Pawlenty also spoke out about "name-calling" when asked if he thought President Obama is a socialist.
"You know, I don't think name-calling is helpful. I've done my share of that, so I'm not Pollyannaish about how the political process works," he said. "But as a general proposition, I think these are serious times, the country's in significant danger, and I think we need people who are thoughtful. We're gonna have sharp differences, but we need to debate those in a way that's constructive and civil. I think President Obama is governing as a movement liberal. I don't think that rises to the level of being a socialist."
Pawlenty announced last summer that he would not seek a third term as governor, feuling speculation that he will make a bid for the White House.
Pawlenty made trips to primary states New Hampshire and Iowa late last year and has attended several high-profile Republican Party events across the country.