Phoenix (CNN) - With no Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich or other potential presidential candidates in attendance, Tim Pawlenty did not have to elbow much for speaking and face time with conservative activists gathered at the American Policy Summit in Phoenix on Saturday.
Amid the thin lineup of potential candidates at the Tea Party Patriots' three-day event, the friendly crowd was served red meat from the former Minnesota Republican governor - who emerged on stage to a splashy video presentation.
"I'm here today to say, 'Thank you.' Thank you for standing up to the ruling class. Thank you for standing up to the liberal power brokers, guardians of the status quo and the royal triangle of greed: big government, big unions and big bailed-out businesses."
As the normally mild-mannered Pawlenty continued, he wielded a double-edged rhetorical sword: appealing to the crowd's insistence on constitutional adherence - while also reiterating his recent lashing out at the president.
"The Constitution was not written to limit freedom, it was written to limit government," Pawlenty said. "It appears President Obama has forgotten what this says. It says in the Constitution: 'In order to form a more perfect Union.' Mr. President, that does not mean coddling out-of-control public employee unions. And Mr. President, Wisconsin does not need a lecture from somebody who's never balanced a budget in his life."
Pawlenty recently launched a website praising Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker as he battles with union opponents of a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights. On the site, Pawlenty said Walker is "making tough choices needed to avoid financial ruin."
Pawlenty is appealing to a group whose support he'll surely need should he decide to run for president. Recently, he's made the rounds of conservative events, visited early 2012 primary states, and traveled the country selling his book that's part memoir, part conservative manifesto, "Courage to Stand."
In his Saturday address, Pawlenty even used punched-up humor to appeal to the conservative activists.
"Do you remember the guy who ran in the New York City mayor's race, who ran his entire campaign on a simple motto?" the former Minnesota governor asked.
"He said over and over: 'The rent is too damn high.' So here's our simple motto: 'The government's too damn big!'
Two other potential presidential candidates are also attending the event.
Representative Ron Paul spoke after Pawlenty. The Texas Republican enjoys a committed base of support in some conservative circles. He laid out familiar themes that often excite his followers.
"The deficit that we're dealing with, and the momentum behind the spending, is so overwhelming that this is only going to be turned around with a major, major event," Paul said.
He continued by reiterating his stances of eliminating the Federal Reserve and income taxes.
"How did we get into this mess?" Paul asked.
"We allowed the wrong kind of people to take over our government. We allowed them to go for all the spending. And we allowed too many people to go to Washington that did not ever take their oath of office seriously. If that's the cause, why shouldn't the solution be: sending only people to Washington who take their oath of office seriously and obey the Constitution."
On Friday night, conservative radio talk-show host Herman Cain brought the crowd to its feet with statements like, "We will survive two more years of Barack Obama until we can replace him."
"We allowed too many people to go to Washington who did not ever take their oath of office seriously" – Tim Pawlenty.
Gee Tim, are you talking about Republican Senator Sessions and Republican Senator Fitzpatrick? Pawlenty is just a waste of simian skin.
Surprised this group isn't afraid of squirrels. Any time this many nuts band together, there's bound to be squirrels nearby. Also can't understand why the people dont recognize that there's a war going on, and it's against the people. WAKE UP..
Anybody who speaks to the Tea Party has no job being president. They have no understanding of politics or how the government of the US works. No understanding of history. Just an incredibly juvenile understanding of history. Look at the candidates they endorse. The bottom of the barrel.
And in Arizona? Land of Depends and denture adhesive? Pulhleeezzzeeee.
How did we get into this mess? Cutting taxes while increasing spending. It's a phenomenon known as borrow and spend and all those critics of tax and spend democrats need to grow up. If government spends, it needs to tax, notwithstanding Dick Cheney's belief that, "deficits don't matter."
"The government os too damn big..." Yeah...right... Just wait until the next neocon warmongering Republican gets in the White House and wants to spend another TRILLION dollars "disarming" some third wolrd dictator that gets on his bad side like Saddam did with the Bush family. I've got news for you...military spending is government spending. Invading and occupying foreign countries involves government spending. Trying to dominate and control other countries involves government spending. Remember this, Conservatives, when you go to the polls to nominate your candidate for the Presidency.
Pawlenty is just another Koch wh0re, joining the ranks of Walker, Palin, DeMint, Bachmann, Cantor, and most of the GOP.
Mr. Pawlenty was once a candidate I would have considered voting for and supporting in the 2012 presidential election. However, that is no longer the case. To court favor with the Tea Party group, and, as we now know, no republican can be considered a serious candidate unless he espouses the thinking of the Tea Party, Mr. Pawlenty has gone from a reasonable candidate to the far-right thinking of the very group that will, eventually, implode the once-proud Republican party. This country needs two strong political parties but the influence of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Michelle Machmann, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, so affects the thinking of formerly normal Republicans, that voting Republican is now totally out of the question. Too bad, Mr. Pawlenty, I think the "original" you would have been a serious contender for the vote of this senior Independent voter.
The "Rent is Too Damn High" candidate lost big time so sure follow his lead.
This guy is a baffoon! Good luck with phoney grass roots, looking out for the average american campaign rhetoric. Anyone with an education past the 6th grade, and with an IQ above 50, knows you and the GOPers are just party of liars, sound bites and misrepresentations. The Koch Brothers pay real well these days HUH?
"The Constitution was not written to limit freedom, it was written to limit government," Pawlenty said.
Then why sir was Article V (the amendment process) a part of that noble document? It's because our founders were wise enough to realize they couldn't predict all the challenges the people would face in future generations and thus amendments might be necessary.
Constitutional scholars have repeatedly pointed out that our Consitution is a flexible document. Tea Partiers don't like to hear that anymore than they like someone to point out conflicting passages in the Bible. Knowledge shakes their simple view of the world.
The other day I was having an argument with a Tea Partier about the situation in Wisconsin. I aksed if him the Tea Party is so big on freedom and rights, how can they be for taking away the right to collectively bargain. He responded by saying that the Constitution only guaranteed individual rights and collective rights are not supported. These are the kinds of people that are trying to take over the government.
Pawlenty- As an Arizonan whose state has been uterly ruined by the radical right and the Tea Party- all I can say is go home and mind your own business. We now have an official "death Panel" committing 100 transplant patients to death; we have recist lawmakers passing openly anti-Hispanic laws; we have kooky law makers trying to re-write the Constitution on Immigration and Citizenship: and worst- the Legislature (awash in TP idiots) wants to "nullify" the Federal government and secede. Then there are all the idiotic gun laws. There seems to be no end to idiocy here.
If this is your brand of change- please just go away. Go to some tinpot third world African nation if chaos is what you want.
A total idiot....nonsense to the state and nation...
It's easy to cater to tea party rhetoric when there isa minority. How will the typical tea party demographic feel when they get what they keep demanding and find that their medicare, social security and other government benifits are gone. They think that they are only going to take away everyone else's entitlement programs.
Shut up already. you are not going to win, go home and stay home.