Pawlenty: Romney's front-line defender
September 12th, 2011
03:52 PM ET
12 years ago

Pawlenty: Romney's front-line defender

North Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Within hours of picking up an endorsement from former White House contender Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney swooped into South Carolina Monday morning with his new de-facto cheerleader and front-line defender.

Pawlenty's new role was apparent at a press availability with the two men in North Charleston. Romney was able to step back, at least for one question, and let his new national co-chair speak for his record.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

An NBC reporter asked, didn't the former governor of Minnesota once refer to Romney as a "co-conspirator" of President Barack Obama's health care plan? As Pawlenty took the microphone, Romney's grin got bigger. Pawlenty dutifully fell in lockstep:

"Governor Romney, I think correctly, took the approach that states should try different things, innovate, be the laboratories of Democracy as it was envisioned by the founders," said Pawlenty, referring to the comprehensive health care law implemented in Massachusetts during Romney's tenure. "He's committed to repealing Obamacare at the national level and I think that's the correct position and one that I'm completely comfortable with."

Romney didn't let Pawlenty take all the hits – after all he'll be busy spinning on Romney's behalf after the "Tea Party Republican Debate" broadcast on CNN from Tampa Monday evening – he reminded everyone that so-called Romneycare and Obamacare are not one in the same.

Romney brought up less controversial state mandates like auto insurance and education as he defended the Massachusetts health care mandate. "What we did was right for our state but simply wrong for the nation," he said.

Although he didn't mention his strongest competitor in the race to the White House by name, Romney didn't hesitate to bring up a controversial decision by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to issue an executive order mandating sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, known to cause cervical cancer.

"Some states, in Texas for instance, mandates that young girls, or did mandate, that young girls had to get inoculations for sexually transmitted diseases," said Romney. The executive order was overturned by the Texas legislature and Perry has since acknowledged it was a mistake.

Romney's trip with Pawlenty to the pivotal first-in-the-South primary state was relatively brief, leaving for Tampa after getting a private tour of the Boeing plant, delivering a speech on labor policy and talking to reporters at North Charleston City Hall.

He was last in South Carolina a week ago, appearing at a Labor Day presidential forum in Columbia organized by Sen. Jim DeMint.

Romney has spent little time so far in South Carolina compared to his first bid for the White House in 2008, spending millions of dollars here only to finish fourth in the primary.

David Raad, the candidate's senior adviser in the state said, "This is one of many trips the governor is going to make to the state of South Carolina."

"As the campaign progresses you'll see the operation unfold, the engagement continue to unfold and you'll see the governor here substantially," said Raad.

South Carolina State Treasurer, Curtis Loftis, who is considered a tea party favorite and is serving as Romney's state chairman, also appeared with Romney and Pawlenty at the Monday event.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • South Carolina • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Yep...I know when I'm looking for a "defender" I certainly glom on to the most spinelss, milquetoast, uninspiring, comically inept boob I can find. Perfect strategery.

    September 12, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens flipped for everything, before he flopped against it,

    September 12, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Can someone please tell me what is going on? Why does it seem like almost all of the GOP establishment is seemingly anti-Perry? Is he really that bad? Or is someone worried that he might spill the beans?

    September 12, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    He's committed to repealing Obamacare at the national level and I think that's the correct position and one that I'm completely comfortable with."
    Don't you mean Obamneycare T-Paw? I've never seen a bigger pair of hypocrites.

    September 12, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. AlaskaPalin

    When progressives use the term centrist and moderate about any republican candidate- conservatives should abandon said candidate in droves. He is a progressive in conservative garbs- a RINO. Perry stands for something but the question that has been haunting conservatives over the years and continue to haunt us even today is, 'what does romney stand for?' Could someone tell me?.!

    September 12, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "He's committed to repealing Obamacare at the national level and I think that's the correct position and one that I'm completely comfortable with."

    In other words, now that I am a true bought and paid for ($500,000 campaign debts paid by Romney) Republican, I'll say anything, do anything, including lie through my teeth. Still living off others, eh, Timmy-boy? Impressive.

    September 12, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Paul Johnson

    Governor Pawlenty's comment as to why he's supporting Governor Romney echoed why I believe the latter is the right choice for our country: unlike Governor Perry, who had the benefit of a conservative legislature and supreme court (which he would not have at the Federal level), Governor Romney was able to reach across the aisle and get things done as a Republican in a blue state. This to me offers hope that we can get our country moving in the right track if Romney is elected.

    September 12, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    The headline CNN..should read..."Romney gives Pawlenty a reach around"...

    September 12, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Riley

    Romney/Rubio 2012!!!!!!

    September 12, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Common Sense

    Spin, spin, spin, spin, spin.....throw up

    September 12, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Beverly - NYC

    Someone's sucking up to be VP. Tim Pawlenty, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

    September 12, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. AlaskaPalin

    which candidate knows most about the inside workings of the democrats? Perry or Romney? This inside knowledge (intelligence) gives Perry the edge in defeating obama in 2012! This is just smart politics.

    September 12, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    T-Paw lost all credibility when he went completely spineless during the debate when he was asked to defend his statements about Romney... Now we see that he was just trying to score points, not really taking any kind of moral stand. How typical. Now he's been dumped by the GOP-Revival Tea-Party crowd, and wants to find a new date to take him to the dance... Suddenly, he's not so down on Romney. I gotta wonder why he's not licking Perry's boots, though – since he seems to be leading the polls...

    The only time i ever agreed with Pawlenty was when he said that the presidential election has become more like a reality TV show than a political race for the country's good. I couldnt agree more.

    September 12, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |