Tim Pawlenty at CPAC
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.
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