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In Iowa, Pawlenty feels comfortable with his place in GOP 2012 field (Video)

MARION — When told by an audience member that he should tell Iowans urging other competitors to hop into the 2012 GOP presidential contest to read his book and take another look at his record, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty brushed it off.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/89f795a572on-350.jpg.jpg Tim Pawlenty meets with Iowans at the Marion Public Library before beginning his opening remarks. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

“I like the fact that folks have looked at the Republicans who ran last time and there is not a presumed front runner. That gives us some time and some space,” he said.

“I’m not as well known as people who ran last time or who are celebrities but, you know, I’m not running for Entertainer-in-Chief.”

The fact that the field is so wide-spread, and that Iowans as well as residents in other early contests states have yet to pick their favorite son or daughter, he said, provides an opportunity for his campaign to build funds, make introductions and win support. And he’s convinced that when more people learn his personal stories, review his record in Minnesota and see where he stands on the issues, that they’ll want to support his candidacy.

“The real question you need answered is who has the fortitude and the record of getting these things done,” Pawlenty told the afternoon crowd of roughly 50 people at the Marion Public Library.

But Pawlenty’s record, according to Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin, didn’t leave Minnesota families in the best economic shape.

“The reason we wanted to be on this call is because we want most people around the country to know that while Tim Pawlenty is campaigning out there and trying to reinvent himself, those of us in Minnesota were left with the consequences of his reckless policies from over the past eight years,” Martin said on a conference call moments before Pawlenty arrived in Marion.

Cuts Pawlenty provided to business and industry in Minnesota, Martin said, forced homeowners to make up the difference in local budgets that were left without such revenues. Roughly 90 percent of all state residents, Martin added, saw “devastating” increases in property taxes as Pawlenty “borrowed from K-12 schools and used countless other budget gimmicks.”

Iowans not only need to learn about Pawlenty’s mistakes in advance of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, said Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, which organized the conference call, but need to use the information told hold the economic policies of Gov. Terry Branstad and Republican lawmakers in check.

“We urge Governor Branstad to learn from Tim Pawlenty’s mistakes before Iowans are forced to pay the price for his irresponsible cuts,” Dvorsky said. “When Tim Pawlenty was governor of Minnesota, his cuts to local government aid resulted in property taxes going up an average of more than 25 percent. Pawlenty claims to be a fiscally-responsible tax cutter, but all he really was shift the burden onto Minnesota homeowners.”

Branstad’s plan to dramatically cut commercial property taxes in Iowa, Dvorsky said, will result in the same burden shift.

Even without knowing the exact content of the call that happened before his speech, Pawlenty appeared to deflect the criticism.

“The next president is going to have to be unpopular for awhile,” Pawlenty cautioned. “We are going to have to do some very difficult things, and you can’t have your life’s compass be set according to what the editorial page says or having your feelings hurt. You’ve got to be the kind of person who has the strength internally to take hits and keep moving forward.”

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