Governor Pawlenty held a number of exit interviews with reporters this week. Today, he met with the AP's Brian Bakst, the Star Tribune's Mike Kaszuba, Bill Salisbury with the St. Paul Pioneer Press and myself.
Pawlenty mostly outlined his accomplishments and then took questions from reporters.
During the interview, he characterized himself as the first "true fiscally conservative governor in the modern history of Minnesota." He also said he will be remembered as the governor who worked to change the spending habits in Minnesota.
"This eight years and presumably the next four or eight with a Republican Legislature will be known as the time that Minnesota finally came to terms with its excesses and got itself on a more sustainable and responsible path."
Pawlenty denied responsibility for the projected $6.2 billion budget deficit that's looming in the next budget cycle. He repeatedly blamed DFLers in control of the Legislature and public employee unions as standing in the way of his proposals that he said could have made a difference.
Pawlenty wouldn't say if he's running for the White House in 2012. He said he'll make a decision by March.
Here's the video (note the first video of Pawlenty going through his talking points. The second video is the q and a with reporters)
Pawlenty announced that Ross Rossin will paint his official portrait. Rossin, of Atlanta, painted the portraits of both Bush presidents. Pawlenty's spokesman says the portrait will cost the state $26,200 in taxpayer money.
$26,200 in taxpayer money for a portrait by a non-Minnesotan artist. There's the real legacy.
Artist jobs created by Gov. Pawlenty:
As a member of one of the public employee unions blamed for budget deficits, I wonder what it is I did to cause the deficit. Unless I am mistaken, my contract under Pawlenty has not resulted in any raises, nor increases in benefits. The contract also does not authorize me to go out and spend tax money on portraits of myself, or anything else for that matter, unless of course you count my salary. It is always motivating to have the bosses who control the budgets, blame the workers when there are budget short falls. At least if your going to blame me, give me some say in how State money is spent. One thing I know for sure is there would not be authorizations for $26,200 to spent on portraits of outgoing governors.