Pawlenty returns to NH for 3rd trip in 7 monthsby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
Dover, N.H. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty spent part of his weekend politicking in New Hampshire, again raising speculation that he's going to run for president.
This latest trip to New Hampshire was Pawlenty's third as a possible -- if not likely -- presidential candidate.
Pawlenty attended two GOP events, beginning with a Republican county picnic in Dover, 10 miles from the Atlantic coast in the northeastern part of the state.
Pawlenty was introduced as a visitor New Hampshire had been seeing a lot of -- and would be seeing more of.
Last December, Pawlenty spoke to Republicans in Concord. In late March, he addressed the Manchester Republican Committee.
At the picnic in Dover, Pawlenty's remarks were essentially a condensed, less formal version of his earlier New Hampshire speeches.
Dressed in blue jeans, standing beneath a picnic shelter in a park, Pawlenty criticized the Obama administration, and called the growth in the cost of government unsustainable.
"We now have people running the United States of America who have no regard for financial limits, no regard for financial discipline," said Pawlenty. "We need to bring this country back into financial responsibility and financial balance. We have to live within our means."
The roughly 100 people who showed up to see Pawlenty gave him a warm reception. Pawlenty's Freedom First political action committee quietly gave the local Republican Party a check for $500.
Among those turning out in the rain were many past and present New Hampshire area lawmakers, including former New Hampshire state Rep. Sam Cataldo.
"I'm a Pawlenty man, you better believe it," he said. "He sounds like me. It's called common sense. He has more experience than this guy who's supposed to be the president of the United States."
Pawlenty has said he won't make a decision about running for president until early next year. Cataldo says he plans to back Pawlenty if the Minnesota governor chooses to run for president.
Following the picnic, Pawlenty headed to the southwest part of the state for a Republican Party of New Hampshire fundraiser that couples paid as much as $250 to attend. That event was closed to reporters.
As Pawlenty has traveled the nation extensively over the past year, Democrats have accused him of being more concerned about his political future than the state he was elected to govern. Pawlenty has defended his ambitious travel schedule, insisting he has not checked out the business of running the state.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Frank Benenati accuses Pawlenty of being a hypocrite for criticizing federal spending, all the while using federal stimulus to fix Minnesota's budget.
"He's rallied against the recovery act while ... he's used one-third of it to balance his own budget," said Benenati. "As he continues to hit the president, as he continues to pander to the right wing, we're going to call him out for it."
Pawlenty defended his use of stimulus money by saying that Minnesota pays more money to the federal government than it gets back. The stimulus money Minnesota got, Pawlenty maintains, is Minnesota's money.
Next week, Pawlenty will travel to Colorado to help Republicans in that state raise money.
He'll close out July raising money for Republicans in Iowa. Iowa holds the first caucuses of the presidential election.