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Pawlenty Responds To Criticism On ‘Today Show’

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Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks to reporters after signing copies of his new book, "Courage to Stand," at the Family Christian Book Store January 30, 2011 in Ankeny, Iowa. Pawlenty is eyeing a run for the GOP presidential nomination and has made several trips to Iowa, which will be holding its famous "first in the nation" caucus in about a year. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks to reporters after signing copies of his new book, “Courage to Stand,” at the Family Christian Book Store January 30, 2011 in Ankeny, Iowa. Pawlenty is eyeing a run for the GOP presidential nomination and has made several trips to Iowa, which will be holding its famous “first in the nation” caucus in about a year. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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By Edgar Linares, NewsRadio 830 WCCO and
Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A war of words between past and present governors is brewing.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty used a national TV appearance on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ to respond to criticism made by his successor, Gov. Mark Dayton.

On Wednesday Gov. Dayton said in his State of the State address, “We were left with a horrendous fiscal mess. A decade of economic decline and state agencies poorly managed.”

On Thursday morning NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked Pawlenty, “What makes you better equipped to run the nations’ economy if you left your own house is such disarray?”

Pawlenty replied, “49 of the 50 states have a budget deficit. So if the disqualifier is any governor who has a budget deficit currently no governor could run for anything.”

He said the deficit left behind was a result of the worst economic collapse since World War II.

Gov. Dayton is currently looking at $6.2 billion deficit during his first term in office.

“As to Gov. Dayton and any other governor facing those challenges … that assumes by the way, the deficit in Minnesota … a 27 percent increase in spending, that’s the forecasted increase in spending, that’s preposterous! I could take care of that deficit as I did for my eight years as Governor and he should too by reducing government spending,” said Pawlenty.

Pawlenty cited his “A” rating from the Cato Institute. He’s one only four governors in the country that got an “A” grade in their 2010 Fiscal Policy Report for cuts to taxes and spending — higher cuts equal higher grades.

Vieira asked Pawlenty how he’s going to stand out from news makers like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney.

“I think people are probably tired of the hype and big speeches filled with false promises. I have a record of actually delivering the product and the goods,” said Pawlenty.

When asked what if he would like to make a formal announcement for the presidency Thursday he said “Absolutely!” After quick pause he laughed and said, “No I’m just teasing.”

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