Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty officially launched his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination today. The theme of his announcement speech was the need for a bold truth-teller to replace a president who tells people what they want to hear. Most striking was this bit about ethanol subsidies:
I'm here today to tell Iowans the truth, too.
America is facing a crushing debt crisis the likes of which we've never seen before. We need to cut spending, and we need to cut it...big time. The hard truth is that there are no longer any sacred programs.
The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.
In the past, Pawlenty has been unwilling to take a strong stand against ethanol subsidies. (I heard him give a painful non-answer to Quin Hillyer on this subject at a press briefing in February.) This is fairly bold, considering that it is hard to see how Pawlenty wins the nomination -- or even breaks into the top tier -- without doing well in Iowa.
Pawlenty also launched a decent attack on President Obama's record:
Barack Obama promised that spending eight hundred billion dollars on a pork-filled stimulus bill would keep unemployment under eight percent. He promised that bailouts for well-connected businesses were a good deal for the country. He promised that a federal takeover of health care would keep costs under control. And hard as it is to believe, he even promised the deficit would be cut in half in his first term!
But the truth is, since President Obama took office, massive numbers of Americans can't find a job. We're four trillion dollars deeper in debt. And his health care plan is an unmitigated disaster for our country.
We've tried Barack Obama's way . . . and his way has failed.
Pawlenty is trying to run as Mitt Romney without the liberal baggage, Mitch Daniels without the social issues truce. The challenge will be to rise above a field of rhetorically effective conservatives that includes Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and maybe his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann. Nicole Russell profiled Pawlenty in our March issue.
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