Milford, New Hampshire (CNN) – One day after refusing to answer whether or not he'd sign House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's controversial budget plan, Tim Pawlenty said on Thursday he would sign it as president – if he couldn't have his own plan.
The comments from the Republican presidential candidate go a step further than what he said Wednesday, when he spoke at a conservative think tank and answered reporter questions afterwards.
Ryan's budget bill includes a provision that would drastically change Medicare for those 55 and younger from a program that pays for seniors' health care into a voucher-like system that would give seniors payments to help cover expenses. On Wednesday, Pawlenty refused to say if he'd sign – or veto - Ryan's plan if he were president.
But after speaking to employees Thursday at Cirtronic Corp. - an electronic contract manufacturer in Milford, New Hampshire - Pawlenty did not hesitate.
"If I can't have my own plan as president – I'll have my own plan – if I can't have that and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not , Congressman Ryan's plan, of course I'd sign it," Pawlenty said in response to a reporter's question.
Just before those comments, Pawlenty again praised Ryan and reiterated that he would soon release his own plan, with some similarities and differences.
"First of all, I applaud Congressman Ryan for his courage and his leadership in putting his plan forward. At least he has a plan," Pawlenty said. "President Obama doesn't have a plan. The Democrats don't have a plan."
The former Minnesota governor continued: "Number two, we will have our own plan. It will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan's plan, but it will have some differences, one of which will be we'll address Social Security. He chose not to. We are addressing Social Security. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also. So we'll have our own plan."
Pawlenty is currently on what the campaign has dubbed a "truth tour" – delivering what may be called tough messages in front of audiences that may not warmly receive his words.
Democrats have been hammering Pawlenty over the Ryan plan. Emails distributed on Thursday by Democratic National Committee National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan said, "Now Day 4 of Tim Pawlenty dodging whether as President he'd sign the Ryan Medicare plan into law after he promised to be the 'truth teller.'"
Now that Pawlenty has answered that question, one group that supports the nation's health care law – called "Protect Your Care" – distributed emails and posted on its website a statement that partly said, " at least Pawlenty had the courage to give a yes or no answer on whether he would end Medicare."
The author of the controversial budget plan told CNN that Democrats are essentially using his proposal as a political scare tactic, though Ryan admitted Republicans need to do a better job explaining it.
"If you're willing to lie and demagogue Medicare and scare seniors, then yeah, they have a political weapon," Ryan told CNN .
"Americans want the truth. They want facts," he added. "And so we have a year and half to get the truth out. Our budget's so clear. It doesn't change benefits for people over the age of 55 and it saves Medicare for the next generation."
–CNN's Kevin Bohn and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN
I guess you can't be a republican, unless you want to destroy medicare.
You already have a medical plan after 65, it's called one of perks of being a Congressman or Senator. That would work for all citizens, not just the few elected "special" people. The voucher system will put all the control of insurance costs in the very hands who will rip us off forever. The insurance companies will love it, typical big business vultures.
GOP shooting itself in the foot, bigtime!
After living in Minnesota for several years, its hard to believe that the good people I knew theree would elect Pawlenty to be their governor. He, like Ryan has no common sense. What he (and Ryan) has is a deep desire to please his owners. But he and his owners have no interest in the well being of people who have no wealth or power.
thanks for telling us that Tim. I'm sure you know most Americans DON'T like the Ryan plan but you'd sign it anyway. Just another reason besides you giving pardons to sexual predators that you don't belong close to the White House.
So the BIG question is ... what is his plan?
Of course almost anything would be better than that travesty of a Medicare/Medicade plan that Paul Ryan excreted.
What is the BIG problem with our health care system? INSURANCE COMPANIES.
Go for it Pawlenty. We need to end the socialist Medicare and Social Security programs. I should not be taxed to support
the lazy elderly that didn't plan for there retirement. Both of this programs are un-constitutional. Did the founding father ever
say that the government would support you in your old age. H-ll No. The constitution says nothing about income re-distribution.
MEMBER OF THE TEA PARTY OF MONTANA
WOLF CREEK MONTANA
well just hand Sarah the nomination on a silver platter while you're at it!
He will have his own idea later another typical politician
Pawlenty is DONE. Republicans don't listen to the PEOPLE. We will NOT accept killing Medicare so taxpayer money from the budget can go to oil company subsidies that reach into the tens of BILLIONS. We wll NOT accept more tax cuts for the rich and sit and let corporations who make obscene profits pay ZERO taxes. We will NOT accept extremist Republican laws taking away our rights – Republican governors have signed laws taking away voting rights for many Americans to try to fix elections, have taken away worker rights to stand up to abusive corporations, some have even restored child labor and not requiring children going to school !!, and most have voted to take away my rights as a woman to make my own healthcare decisions and have taken away access to healthcare. Who do these arrogant Republicans think they are? And here they have been screaming about small government and personal freedom -– and they do the opposite. How typical – hypocrites and liars who want to destroy the middle class to further enrich their wealthy buddies and corporate bosses.
NO MORE REPUBLICANS IN 2012. I want my Medicare, my Social Security, and my rights under the Constitution. As long as Republicans in Congress make 6 figure salaries, have the best healthcare plan that exists and a pension for life that pays 80% of their salary after only working for 6 years – don't even begin to talk to me about taking away what I have worked for my whole career. No member of Congress should have better healthcare or pensions than the PEOPLE they are supposed to serving. Their sense of entitlement is diisgusting.
Let's get them out of office and send them home back to reality. Let's bring in REAL Leaders – DEMOCRATS who have never stopped workting for the PEOPLE since Presiden Obama took office. They have worked hard to protect us from the Republicans. Let's put more in office in 2012 so we can restore our economy faster and keep our rights safe and our Medicare and Social Security safe.
Republicans are expert LIARS – but not a leader among them.
The Democrats DO have a plan and its called Medicare! Get with it or get LOST literally
There better be real differences between his "plan" and Ryan's. Otherwise he will reveal himself as another "no idea" Republican.
This also begs the question to Romney. Would he sign "RomneyCare" as a national bill if he were President. He either has to affirm the soundness of his signature accomplishment or trash it.
Chicken Little for GOP President 2012! Yaaaaaaawn!
Don't worry Tim, you will NEVER be president,
he's impervious to political attacks !
because he's both for it and against it at the same time !!
whatever you bring up, he can go the other way... now that's leadership.
yeah tim, go ahead and run. OBAMA 2012.