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
No need to sugarcoat it. ALL Republicans endorse the Ryan plan because that has always been the official Republican ideology. Don't let the Fox Noise spin doctors invent their own facts. Republicans opposed Medicare and Social Security from the very beginning.
So with one statement, Pawlenty scores points with the extreme right wing of the GOP and goes down in flames with the rest of the American public.. can you say, not to smart!
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
You sure this is what you republicans want??? You had better be sure about what you're buying before you pay the price!
First he says in Iowa of all places that he will end ethanol subsidies and today he is for privatizing Medicare. Great job. Campaign over. Go home.
Keep talking chipmuck. NY26 will happen to you too.
Repubs. whining about demagoguery by Dems. makes me puke.
Yes indeed Tim, a great GOP platform, cut to Medicare & education, & provide tax cuts for millionares, the $$ will just trickle down.....kind of like GOP votes if they keep pushing death for MediCare, the real answer iS medicare for ALL, start allowing 55 year old then go down by 2 years every year, in 20 years everyone is covered, medicare gets alot of $$ from joining (charge a fee like insurance) but if they keep their adminstratvie %@ 2% they're golden, AETNA has a 22% adminstrative 'fee" despite this being a Capitaliztic nation, for profit health care does NOT work for the patient, the people or the doctors, it only helps the Insurance Industry who then greases the wheels with Lobbyists to keep their profits margin & lock, yeah now we are order to buy it (by Obama) with no cost controls, that's no answer either- Obama blinked & gave in to Insurers & Unions for their help...who looses WE DO, the ordinary people, who pay a ton for health insurance so AETNA et al., can profit by BILLIONS every year??? They have their own death panels already, its just prviate insurance, so the whole BS about Gov't 'death panels' was a shock job.. Bottom line they need ti fix it but the GOP says it ain't broke (duhhhhhh the GOP says shop for Dr's & negotiate the price for your appendeix surgery, yea right we have alot of bargaining power against Blue+...........................it sucks to get sick worse w/o insurance...I think 40% of US Bankruptcies are due to medical bills....put that in your hat Tmimy boy
Whooops, well there goes his candidacy, too, right into the crapper.
It is for the record! Pawlenty supports radical social engineering on Medicare by placing an unfair burden on future generations of seniors. Voters under the age of 55 should be wary of this radical GOP/Tea Party plan to deprive them of adequate health care in their golden years.
That's all I need to know. You can go back home now and apply for unemployment benefits.
That ends your run for the White House right there. Count Florida and Arizona as lost – followed by the rest of the country.
In the dictionary next to the term wishy-washy is a picture of T. Pawlenty.
I've forgotten, is he running for president yet or not?
But Democrats say we don't need budgets. We can just borrow and spend forever. That's how the real world works, right? Unlimited spending, no credit limits, you can just take your wealthy neighbors income as well because you're entitled to it because life must be fair and the playing field leveled.
Zzzzzz... Pawlenty's still as boring as watch paint dry.
"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."
Be very wary during the next election cycle, America. Had the Senate (and not just the House) gone Republican, just think ... Ryan's plan of eliminating Medicare and reducing the upper 2%ers tax beyond what they were given by the 2010 extensions, would now be one step closer to becoming law. Not just Mr. Pawlenty, but indeed, ALL GOPer Presidential wannabee's have been more than willing to state ON RECORD that they would absolutely follow Ryan's budget, end Medicare, (and throw in Social Security for good measure), while still continuing their support of the wealthiest of American millionaires and billionaires. I for one am holding them to their promises, and won't let them shuffle past go with rhetorical flip-flopping double-talk speeches later in the election year. It's their primary, let them choose now: TeaParty zealots or Working Class independents.
Good answer, Governer. Nice and safe. Doesn't offend the base, nor put Ryan down.
Dude, if you are President the only plan that you should be signing is your own.
Campaign Darwin Award.
It's better not to have a plan, if it's a failed plan that everybodies running away from but Ryan. What a joke, Republicans who held Town Hall Meetings couldn't explain Ryan's plan to their own supporters and once they tried they lost those supporters.
What's the matter little Timmy, won't the tea-baggers let you have your own plan to destroy medicaid/medicare... but little Timmy your the President?
Is mean old Papa Rush going to put you in time out? What a joke!!
I don't think he really wants to be president...
Sorry Timmy ... YOU WILL NEVER be President, so your support of Ryan's vile and heartless budget plan is moot and so are you!
"If you're in a fight, and your opponent hands you a baseball bat, and you beat him senseless with it, then yeah you have a weapon."
Ryan (a fellow Miami U grad) even put pine tar on the bat for Dems and sanded it down so they wouldn't get splintered. Now he's trying to play the victim? Pawlenty just put himself in the on-deck circle by agreeing to this. Happy 2012 Repubs!!
Yeah go ahead try to balance the budget like you did in Minnisota with smoke and mirrors. Didn't this moron pardon some guy who then raped his own daughter, he's just another Republican idiot with pawlenty to say, with no real plan.
Yeah, well how about you and your buddy Ryan support your own health with "vouchers" and see how it works out before
inflicting this disgraceful and undignified plan on our senior American citizens. Anybody who supports this demeaning scam amongst the general population should be ashamed of themselves
It's not the seniors that have to worry, I'm 52 and cannot imagine trying to come up with an extra $6000 a year for insurance when I retire. I don't have enough time left to save that much extra. Raise my rates now that is OK, but don't leave my health care in my declining years to a for profit company!!!!!