DES MOINES, Iowa (WCCO) — Tim Pawlenty spent nearly two years testing the waters when it came to vying to be the nation’s next president.
The former Minnesota governor made his plans official Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, saying he will be the candidate that tells the truth to the American people about the hard decisions that will need to be made to eliminate the budget deficit.
Pawlenty made his first public appearance Monday since announcing his candidacy late Sunday. He told supporters and GOP activists in the leadoff caucus state the nation can no longer afford to support the corn-based fuel additive.
Pawlenty stressed accountability when it comes to public employee unions.
“It means paying public employees for results, not just seniority and it means from the capitol to the classroom and everywhere in between we are going to make public employees more accountable and their pay and benefits more in line with the rest of the taxpayers in the country,” Pawlenty said.
“I have participated in these issues with deed, not words, and we have made progression in Minnesota and helped the national effort as well,” Pawlenty said.
Iowa is considered a must-win state for Pawlenty, and that’s why he decided to go to Iowa to announce his decision instead of staying in his home state. Ken Martin, the chair of the Minnesota DFL party, blasted the move.
“I think it’s a real slap in the face to Minnesotans that Tim Pawlenty would come down to Iowa and make the announcement,” Martin said.
But people in Iowa who attended the announcement said they were impressed.
“I think he is very presidential,” said George Hasan. Hasan said he is also drawn to another Minnesota Republican, Michele Bachmann.
“I think Michele is a very intelligent articulate lady who is very up on the issues,” he said.
Many people who attended said they liked what Pawlenty had to say, but that it’s too early to choose a candidate.
“I haven’t entirely decided yet,” said Mary Whisenand.
Pawlenty didn’t choose Monday to attack the other GOP candidates in the running, but he did criticize current President Barack Obama.
“I have noticed in all of their speeches they’re not taking apart other candidates,” said Iowan Alice Cronan. “They’re going after Obama. I hope they continue to do so because that, to me, is going to help build the unity of the party.”
Pawlenty will now fly to Florida and New Hampshire in the coming days, two very key states in the presidential race. Experts said he still needs to do very, very well in Iowa to sustain the fundraising he needs for a presidential campaign.