If the first rule of a Meet the Press appearance is to survive without any major damage done, Gov. Tim Pawlenty did just that.
NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory challenged Pawlenty on his recent Tiger Woods comments ("Are people supposed to take you seriously?"), on whether the federal stimulus created jobs (he cited John McCain's 2008 economist saying it did) and on his budget, which featured business tax cuts but cuts to social services (Is that your vision for America, social service cuts but lower taxes on businesses?").
Pawlenty stressed that the private sector is best suited to create jobs and said money spent on the stimulus would have been better used by cutting the payroll tax.
There were two newsy items in the interview. Pawlenty said he supports "Don't ask, Don't tell" and said he would "sketch out his future" regarding a possible 2012 run in 2011.
Pawlenty also side-stepped a question regarding deficit reduction. When asked about cuts to Medicare and social security (the two biggest growers in the federal budget) he used the vague "Reform is needed" line and then touted the bus driver strike in 2004 that resulted in benefit cuts.
He also said he hopes President Obama is a one-term president and is hopeful that the GOP will retake Congress.
Reaction to Pawlenty's appearance is following a partisan divide on Twitter. Democrats say Gregory needed to be stronger on Pawlenty with tougher follow-ups. Republicans characterized it as a grilling.
Update: The TVeyes transcript only works on certain browsers. It worked on Internet explorer but not on Safari for me.
Update. Here's the full Meet the Press.:
Keeping with the sports metaphor, Pawlenty “rope-a-dope” tactic failed to generate any interest. His answers were canned … with the best exchange concerned climate change … “GREGORY: three years ago you said anyone who questions it is not right. GOV. PAWLENTY: there is no question the climate is changing. the more interesting question is how much is man-made versus natural causes and the way you address it is we should all be in favor of reducing pollution. we need to do it in ways that don't burden the economy. ” Hmm … is the Minnesota’s budget that subsidizes the ethanol industry, legislatively enacting requirements for its use, and tariffs on importation of ethanol, consistent with not burdening the economy? This was the guy that was going to travel with Will Seiger until he met the GOP voters. BTW, did you know that Canada is having it’s third warmest winter on record … YES … we have climate change … we know it and it does not matter if it is man-made or nature, the question is do we do anything about it.
Which brings it to the most interesting comment that was made on the program … it was from General David Petraeus … three simple words “Living our values” … it’s something that we should reflect on … for example, are we “living our values” in cutting GAMC … and what recommendation did Pawlenty received from his staff that includes Lee Buckley as Pawlenty's $92,000-a-year special adviser on Faith and Community Services … why set-up a Faith program and not live the values that they promote ? Or, why is it that we have FBI and CIA homosexual employees working in the military theatre, but not acknowledge a 2006 Zogby poll of military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan found 23 percent reporting that they are certain they are serving with a homosexual in their unit. Listen to the words of Chairman Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff : “My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”
I think the military understands what “Living our values” mean … and if there was a presidential candidate on Sunday’s program, it was not Tim Pawlenty nor Mike Pence, but David Petraeus.