National Press Club

Pawlenty: Downward Drift Threatens U.S. Security

January 13, 2011

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty addresses a Jan. 13, 2011 National Press Club luncheon.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty addresses a Jan. 13, 2011 National Press Club luncheon.

Photo/Image: Sam Hurd

The nation is in a downward spiral that could deepen its economic crisis and threaten its security, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a Jan. 13 luncheon audience packing the ballroom.

"There is something amiss," Pawlenty said. Americans are losing their "sense of hope in the future," as result of the federal government's huge and mounting debt.

He left no doubt that he would make deficit and debt reduction his prioity if he became president. He said he would decide in the next two months whether to seek the Republican Party's 2012 nomination.

Pawlenty would try to end what he called the country's down drift with belt-tightening and lower federal budgets. He said government, like families, can't spend more than it has.

An important reason for the country to get its financial affairs in order is a more "aggressive China" to which the United States is in deep debt, Pawlenty warned.

Pawlenty began his remarks by comparing the Tucson shooting disaster last weekend with the collapse a few years ago of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis that killed many people.

He urged Americans to cease trying to fix blame. He said when the bridge fell many were quick to make accusations. Later, it was determined that the cause was a "design problem in the 1960s."

"We need accurate and fair discussions and to hold each other accountable," he said.

Asked what he thought of President Barack Obama's response to the Arizona tragedy, Pawlenty said Obama "was caring and showed empathy and did a fine job."

He defended Sarah Palin, saying people were wrong to blame her for the incident. He went on to say that if she were president she would bring more executive experience, having been a mayor and governor, to the White House than Obama.

Pawlenty had been on Sen. John McCain's short list for vice president in 2008 when McCain chose Palin.

He extolled Ronald Reagan as a "strong conservative and one of the nation's best presidents. He said government had a (limited) role and was proud of America and the American spirit."

He said Reagan and George W. Bush ensured the nation's national security, while criticizing the Obama administration for backing away from the planned anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"(Former Polish President and Nobel Peace Laureate) Lech Walesa said you can't trust America anymore," Pawlenty said.

Turning to immigration, Pawlenty emphasized the urgency of getting the border with Mexico under control.

"We need border integrity," he said, noting that Minnesota "sent troops to the border."

He made repeated references to the United States as a country "ruled by law" while many others are not. He also promoted his new book, "Courage to Stand," whose tour he launched with his luncheon speech.

-- Robert Webb,