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Pawlenty tells Iowans he won’t be the ‘loudest or craziest person’ in the 2012 race

Tim Pawlenty has claimed that Barack Obama is so frightened during foreign policy briefings that the president must wear Depends diapers. He’s quoted Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga in campaign speeches. And he’s thanked the tea party, a movement backed by billionaires, for “standing up to the ruling class.” But today in Iowa he struck a decidedly more low-key tone, promising that he won’t be the “loudest or craziest” person running for president.

“I think what people are looking for post-Obama is a steady hand on the throttle,” he said during a campaign stop in Ames Tuesday. “If people are looking for the loudest or craziest person in the race, they should vote for someone else. That won’t be me. If they are looking for someone who has thoughtful, measured approach and a record of results, they should support my candidacy.”

“If someone’s going to take him on, and if that’s going to be me, we need to engage him now, we need to engage him directly, to have the debate, clear and decisively,” he added. “We need to get off the sideline and begin to make the specific case why the country should replace President Obama and make one of the Republican 2012 candidates, hopefully me, that person.”

Pawlenty’s travels this week also took him to New Hampshire, where he criticized the president’s energy policy and proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge up for oil drilling.

“It would alleviate some of the pressure if [Obama] would be bold and aggressive and say we are going to open ANWAR, we are going to do more drilling offshore in the Gulf and other places, but he is unwilling to do that,” says Pawlenty, “so the market is building into pricing this uncertainty because of Libya, uncertainty in the Middle East, uncertainty because of what they see as a hostile president.”

He also criticized Obama’s foreign policy, dinging the president for “dithering” on Libya. Fresh off praising Obama’s handling of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pawlenty stated, “You cannot have the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the Commander in Chief, say ‘Gadhafi must go’ and then have Gadhafi indefinitely thumb his nose at us.”

Pawlenty is among a small field of Republican presidential hopefuls who’ll participate in Thursday’s candidates’ debate in South Carolina. Rep. Ron Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain are taking part; Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump are not.

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