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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Tim Pawlenty at CPAC

By Jennifer Rubin

Tim Pawlenty's voice was gravely, but it helped him sound a little tougher and rougher, which was plainly the goal of his CPAC speech. He jabbed at Obama for proving that someone can deserve a Nobel prize "less than Al Gore." Pawlenty said he's not one to question Obama's birth certificate, but does wonder "what planet he's from."

Obama wasn't his only target. He went after Mitt Romney, not by name, but by going after the individual mandate in ObamaCare, the aspect of the health-care legislation that Romney is most identified with.

He also talked more about faith than the other candidates. And he used more hot-button conservative touchstones than others. (He analogized federal spending to Keith Olbermann's talking -- too much, to no good end, etc.)

His riffs on the economy worked well. He mocked liberal fiscal attitudes, saying very slooowly that he can't spend moooore than weeeee takkke innn. As he did at the National Press club, he used the contrast between an open and cash bar to point out that people spend money differently when it is their own. He threw out plenty of red meat -- no increase on the debt limit, repeal ObamaCare, pass a balanced budget amendment and "throw the tax code overboard."

On national security he asserted that you need to address "bullies" with strength and not weakness. That got the most sustained applause of the speech. No equivocation and no daylight between the U.S. and our allies, he urged (listing Israel, Britain and others). "With bullies might makes right," he intoned to another boisterous round of applause. When he added, "Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country," the crowd cheered again.

It mattered less, I think, what he said than how he said it. His first few minutes were a bit choppy in timing and delivery, but he settled into a rhythm and made considerable headway in beating back the milquetoast rap that many have affixed to him. For a nice guy, he did sound tough ("This isn't about easy!"). And, make no mistake, this guy is running.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 11, 2011; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Next: Friday question


So Pawlenty is calling Mubarak a "bully"?
Was he suggesting that we invade Egypt to confront the "bullies with strength and not weakness.". Barging in swinging ... so Bush-like. So 20th Century. So wrong.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 11, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

thebobbob, I think he was referring to bullies that are our enemies. There are quite a few of those and they've been emboldened by our weakness. Or are you one of the morons who thinks these aggressive adversaries are just pushing back against American imperialism? Do you think that once we're humiliated and driven out of places like the Middle East and Asia, they'll become our friends?

Posted by: eoniii | February 11, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Mubarak was the enemy of Freedom and Democracy. Bush,Republicans and NeoCons argue that we're supposed to be willing to invade other countries. Massive, peaceful, non-religious protests by all Egyptians called for our "Friend the Bully" to step down from his corrupt regime.

Should we be humiliated that we supported such a guy? Or should we be humiliated that we didn't force him out sooner?

Pawlenty is a right wing Christian extremist who cynically uses religion to gain political power. He has more in common with the religious leaders of Iran than with mainstream America.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 11, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

He should have taken his wife's surname. Anderson. Pawlenty just sounds rubbery.

Posted by: metanis | February 11, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

thebobbob, Mubarak was a tyrant, but by Egyptian and Arab standards fairly benevolent. He gave Egypt and his neighbors thirty years of peace. Compare him to Saddam or to the elder Assad who massacred the entire city of Hama when it rebelled.

Egypt has had, what, 10,000 years of despotic rule. I hope they can come out of this with the things we take for granted: basic human rights for all including women and religious minorities; a representative democracy where the opposition isn't jailed; a civil society with pluralism and tolerance; and a peaceful foreign policy. Except for a peaceful foreign policy, Egyptians have no experience with any of these things that are essential for democracy to survive, and the Muslim Brotherhood has very different ideas.

Posted by: eoniii | February 11, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

so many people calling themselves

Christians (the bible belt & especially southern baptists), always support

the most reactionary war loving conservative politicians, who are the

exact opposite of Jesus, our leader and saviour. Jesus would have

condemned Reagan and Bush, and if the Republicans cannot see that, then

indeed we are in the moral corruption foretold in the last days in the


Posted by: Provasek | February 11, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Ed.'s note

"Tim Pawlenty's voice was gravely"

The word is spelled "gravelly", and it's an adjective. "Gravely" is an adverb meaning "in a deep manner", usually preceding the concern expressed by Secretary Clinton about most anything.

Posted by: aardunza | February 12, 2011 1:15 AM | Report abuse

"Pawlenty just sounds rubbery"?? You, sir are a surnameist!

Posted by: aardunza | February 12, 2011 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Surnamist? Surname-ist? Can't wait for Willard to say 'Tear him up!'

Posted by: aardunza | February 12, 2011 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Another fun fact for the kiddies: the film 'Willard' was based on the novel "Ratman's Notebook" by Stephen Gilbert, read by yrs truly -- shall we say, several -- decades ago. Great read!

Posted by: aardunza | February 12, 2011 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Editing! Tear me up. :-(

Posted by: aardunza | February 12, 2011 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Pawlenty was a failure in Minnesota, kicking the budget problem down the road. He may not have directly raised state taxes but he sure raised local and property taxes. He's a fraud.

Posted by: oc1dean | February 12, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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