Tim Pawlenty, former Minnesota governor and likely presidential candidate, acknowledged that he once supported ‘cap and trade’ but has since switched his position.
“Almost everybody who’s running has a similar problem,” Pawlenty said, responding to a question I posed to him at a meeting with bloggers during CPAC. “I think if you look under the hood you’ll see that I, like everybody else potentially running, looked at it, flirted with it, and then decided it was a bad idea.”
However, Pawlenty emphasized that he wasn’t trying to equivocate.
“Have I changed by position?” he said. “Yes. But I’m not going to be cute about it, hem and haw, be dippy and dancy about it. Just saying yeah, it was a mistake, it was stupid. It was wrong.”
I asked about cap and trade as part of a broader question about the perception that in the past few years he’s tried to move from being a moderate Republican governor to a red meat conservative in anticipation of a presidential run.
“In general, my record, both as governor for eight years and as a legislator years before that, including as majority leader, is an undeniably conservative record,” he responded, noting that he governed in an extremely liberal state. “Now have I had a few clunkers along the way? Yeah, but anybody who’s running who has been in office, has a few clunkers. I think mine are fewer and less severe than most.”
He also touted his “A” rating from the Cato Institute’s Report Card on Governor’s.
Pawlenty addresses the general CPAC audience later this afternoon.