Archive for ‘Tim Pawlenty’

May 26, 2011

Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on …

Dems rejoice over NY; will Medicare redo 2012?
May 26, 2011, 2:59 a.m. EDT
Associated Press
Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Selection Poll B.O.Page!WASHINGTON (AP) — Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on Wednesday after casting a House race in upstate New York as a referendum on the popular program and emerging victorious.

“The top three reasons for the election of a Democrat in one of the most conservative Republican districts in America are Medicare, Medicare and Medicare,” declared New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the party’s congressional campaign committee.

House Republicans made little if any attempt to demonstrate widespread support for their controversial proposal during the day. And the National Republican Congressional Committee offered no explanation for having let hundreds of thousands of dollars in Democratic-funded attacks on the proposed Medicare overhaul go unchallenged in its own television advertising.

GOP officials said the presence of a third-party contender and other factors contributed to their unexpected defeat in New York.

They accused Democrats of campaign scare tactics, while the Medicare plan’s author, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a five-minute video defending his work.

Under Ryan’s plan, for anyone younger than 55 the basic Medicare program for medical and hospital care would be replaced by a system in which insurance companies would offer coverage while the government contributed toward the cost of premiums. The program would remain unchanged for anyone 55 or older, including millions who currently receive benefits.

Kathy Hochul’s victory over Republican Jane Corwin in a multi-candidate race was the best political news in months for Democrats, who were voted out of power in the House and lost seats in the Senate last year in what President Barack Obama memorably dubbed a shellacking. She gained 47 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for her rival and 9 percent for Jack Davis, a former Democrat who ran as a tea party contender.

At the same time, Democrats stressed they did not view the race as a reason to walk away from high-profile bipartisan deficit-reduction talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden.

For Republicans, the New York race provided fresh evidence of turbulence for a Medicare remake they tout as a long-term answer to the program’s financing. In the weeks since they unveiled it, the proposal has been less than enthusiastically received by the public, judging from polls.

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich criticized it, and while he later apologized to Ryan he has not recanted his opposition. A second contender, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said during the day he will have an alternative that differs in unspecified areas from the one in the party’s budget in the House.

Israel and other Democrats said Hochul’s victory showed that the Medicare-overhaul proposal would prove a political dead weight for Republicans in dozens of races in the 2012 congressional elections.

It also is likely to embolden liberals who are not generally supportive of deficit cuts now under negotiation on the order of trillions of dollars.

Yet public opinion polls show strong support for reining in deficits, particularly among independent voters. And Obama, readying for his own re-election campaign, has dispatched Biden and other top officials to negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise with Republicans.

“Budget talks are proceeding in good faith and will continue,” said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The party’s second-in-command in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, has said repeatedly that changes to Medicare should be on the table as part of deficit reduction talks, although he and others in his party remain implacably opposed to the Republicans proposal.

In an interview, Israel said Democrats would work with Republicans to strengthen Medicare “but not to do away with it.”

Republicans want “to end Medicare as we know it,” the president told an audience of invited guests last month, Ryan and other GOP lawmakers among them.

Democratic strategists have privately urged the party’s leaders to criticize the overhaul plan, in part to try and regain the allegiance of older and independent voters who helped Republicans in the 2010 elections.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chair of the Senate Democratic campaign organization, said she, too, intended to make use of the issue in the fall.

“I’m confident that Senate Democrats will be able to play offense in races across the country by remaining focused on the Republican effort to end Medicare in order to” cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, she said.

In the race in New York, Hochul injected the GOP Medicare plan into the campaign weeks ago. Running in a conservative district, she aired ads saying she wanted to reduce government spending while accusing Corwin of favoring Medicare cuts to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Corwin quickly counterattacked, accusing Hochul of wanting to cut Social Security as well as Medicare.

Both the Democratic campaign committee and the House Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with the Democrats, also aired ads critical of the GOP Medicare plan.

But the National Republican Congressional Committee did not mention the issue in running as much as $400,000 worth of television advertising in the district around Buffalo and Rochester. Instead, the group ran a commercial linking Hochul to Pelosi, an echo of the type of ad that proved effective in the 2010 campaigns.

Paul Lindsay, a spokesman, declined to say whether the organization wished it had acted differently. But in the future, he said, “Republicans will take this result as a call to action to challenge Democrats at every turn on their irresponsible plan to bankrupt Medicare.”

American Crossroads, an organization aligned with Republicans, spent more than $600,000 on television ads without seeking to counter the Democratic attacks.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman, said polling showed Medicare was the largest policy issue in the campaign “by a superslim and superlow plurality of 21 percent.”

He said one out of five voters said it was the most important issue, yet five out of ten voted for Hochul. “When you look at it that way, it’s really not the big deal that everyone made it out to be.”

Hochul will be sworn in within days, the first Democrat to represent the district in four decades. She replaces Chris Lee, who resigned after shirtless photos he sent to a woman he’d flirted with on Craigslist surfaced online.

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May 26, 2011

A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty’s budget approach …

Pawlenty: An economic pro or crafty budget setter?
May 25, 2011, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty‘s budget approach as Minnesota governor.

Accounting tricks, a well-timed infusion of stimulus money from Washington and word games kept the Republican mostly on that course.

The newly minted presidential candidate hopes Republican primary voters will see him as an economic pro accustomed to dealing with red ink and capable of confronting the nation’s colossal fiscal problems.

“We balanced the budget every two years in my state without question,” Pawlenty said Wednesday at a conservative think tank in Washington. “We have a constitutional requirement, as almost every other state does.

It must be balanced, it has to be balanced, it always will be balanced. In fact, the last budget that I finished ends this summer, here in about two months. And it’s going to end in the black.”

On the campaign trail, the Republican eagerly highlights his many tax-increase vetoes. And he boasts of enduring a partial government shutdown as well as a workers’ strike to contain costs.

But his record also carries vulnerabilities for foes to exploit.

There’s the carefully crafted “health impact fee” on cigarettes. It’s a euphemism for a tax increase in the eyes of some allies and most opponents.

Minnesota lurched from one deficit to another under his eight-year tenure. The state’s books technically balanced when he left office in January, but by then a mammoth deficit was forecast for the first budget his successor would need to craft.

When asked about that legacy, Pawlenty said the analysis is off-base: “It’s based on a big increase in projected spending — 20-some percent increase — that I never would’ve allowed.”

Pawlenty distances himself from that projected $5 billion shortfall, but it’s partly attributable to temporary fixes he either proposed or consented to. Schools are owed more than $1.4 billion in state IOUs, one-time stimulus dollars used to prop up ongoing state expenses are drying up and short-lived spending curbs Pawlenty first enacted using his executive powers are expiring.

His defenders, including former Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum, say Pawlenty had to work within the confines of a politically split state government and wanted to be more aggressive than Democrats in the Legislature would permit.

“It took some patchwork, no doubt,” Sviggum said. “But the fact is, we were able to meet the constitutional charge of balancing the budget without raising taxes.”

Taxes did rise in the Pawlenty era, although his fingerprints aren’t on them.

His veto of a gas tax increase was overridden and voters raised the sales tax through a ballot measure. Property taxes shot up in the Pawlenty years, mostly those enacted by city, county or school governments as they coped with stagnant or falling state aid. The year he entered the governor’s office, Minnesota land owners paid about $5.1 billion in property taxes; the total take topped $8 billion when he departed.

“Tim Pawlenty consistently passed the buck — onto local governments, onto the Legislature, onto anyone he could,” said state Rep. Paul Thissen, the top House Democrat. “His budgets were filled with shifts, tricks and gimmicks that created perpetual state deficits and set Minnesota behind the rest of the nation.”

Then there are fees.

The state slapped higher surcharges on everything from speeding tickets to marriage licenses. None was more controversial than the 75 cent-per-pack levy on cigarettes, which helped break the stalemate that pushed Minnesota to a government shutdown in 2005.

Pawlenty insists the cigarette “fee” is directly linked to health costs attributable to smoking, and the state Supreme Court vouched for that terminology when tobacco companies sued to block it.

Anti-tax groups, including the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, regard it as clear blemish on Pawlenty’s record.

“I still call it a tax increase even though the Supreme Court blessed it as a fee, not a tax,” said Phil Krinkie, the league’s president and a former Republican legislative colleague of Pawlenty.

GOP primary voters looking for a Pawlenty scorecard will find a mixed appraisal from conservative groups.

The conservative Club for Growth gave Pawlenty a less-than-flattering review Tuesday, saying his ideological moorings may not be as strong as he’s projecting.

“A President Pawlenty, we suspect, would fight for pro-growth policies, but would be susceptible to adopting ‘pragmatic’ policies that grow government,” the group concludes in a report it prepared on him.

But the Cato Institute, which advocates for smaller government and hosted him, gave Pawlenty one of four “A” grades for governors in its latest rankings.

He wasn’t always in the group’s good graces.

Chris Edwards, Cato’s director of tax policy studies, said Pawlenty’s frequent vetoes, ready use of executive budget-cutting powers and advocacy of corporate tax cuts account for his high marks now.

“In the last four or five years, he has followed very much of a small-government approach on fiscal policy,” Edwards said. “Perhaps he knew he was going to run for president.”

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May 23, 2011

Tim Pawlenty on Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths …

Pawlenty launches bid, delivers tough talk in Iowa
May 23, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDTAssociated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)Tim Pawlentyon Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths as he seeks the presidency, bluntly announcing in corn-dependent Iowa that its prized federal subsidies for ethanol should be phased out.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” Pawlenty told about 200 Republican activists and supporters in Des Moines in his first public appearance since officially kicking off his White House bid Sunday. “We simply can’t afford them anymore.”

The former Minnesota governor is using his first week of campaigning as an announced candidate to try to cast himself as a straight-talking Midwesterner, unafraid to consider drastic changes to sensitive spending programs in order to solve the nation’s fiscal problems. He faces several obstacles in pursuing the GOP nomination; he isn’t well-known nationally, ranks low in popularity polling and has been tagged by comedians and the chattering class as boring.

Pawlenty’s announcement came hours after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision against a bid jolted the GOP race and brought the field into clearer focus.

Pawlenty made fiscal overhaul the centerpiece of his announcement speech, and planned to not just challenge politically influential Iowans, but swing-voting seniors in Florida and wealthy bank executives on Wall Street.

“Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people. Someone has to lead.”

Pawlenty plans to outline a Social Security plan that raises the retirement age for seniors and requires means-testing for wealthier retirees.

The proposals are aimed at establishing Pawlenty as a candidate who levels with the American people, which he said President Barack Obama, whom he hopes to challenge next year, has not done.

“President Obama’s policies have failed,” Pawlenty said, delivering a speech and answering questions from the audience but not reporters. “But more than that, he won’t even tell us the truth about what it’s really going to take to get out of the mess that we’re in.”

Pawlenty acknowledged the political sensitivity of changing Social Security and eliminating ethanol subsidies.

“I’m not some out-of-touch politician from some other part of the country,” he said. “But even in Minnesota, when we faced fiscal challenges, we reduced ethanol subsidies. That’s where we are now in Washington, but on a much, much larger scale.”

As governor, Pawlenty played both sides of the ethanol issue. He angered farmers by pushing to trim subsidy payments to ethanol producers early in his first term. But he won their favor later by spearheading a drive to boost the amount of the fuel additive blended into each gallon of gasoline sold in the state. It must be 20 percent by 2013.

While the challenge to ethanol was a risk, Pawlenty made clear what Iowa means to his candidacy.

The setting for Pawlenty’s appearance — a sun-splashed rooftop terrace overlooking the Iowa Capitol — underscored how important the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses are to his bid as he tries to take advantage of Daniels’ absence to position himself as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor lost his first bid in 2008 and again is seeking the nomination of a party that historically has nominated a candidate who had run previously.

Given an opportunity to go after Romney in a Monday morning appearance on network television, Pawlenty demurred, saying he’d prefer to talk about his own presidential traits than criticize others. He did acknowledge he probably wouldn’t be able to compete with the former private equity investment firm executive in terms of fundraising.

However, while criticizing Obama’s candidness about the depths of the nation’s fiscal crisis, he also subtly called on his would-be GOP rivals to be honest about the problems.

“It’s time for America’s president — and anyone who wants to be president — to look you in the eye and tell you the truth,” he said.

The appearance was one in a highly scripted, multi-format campaign roll-out that began Sunday evening with an internet video and continued Monday morning with Pawlenty’s appearances on all the network news morning programs. It is part of an 18-month ramp-up that began with Pawlenty’s first Iowa trip as a possible candidate, and is aimed at branding him as the fresh-faced, but tough-minded executive able to take on an incumbent Democratic president.

Pawlenty, who must win the party nomination before getting the chance to take on Obama, virtually ignored his GOP rivals in an announcement video, a column published in USA Today and his speech.

Pawlenty’s Monday visit was his 14th to Iowa since the 2008 election, more than any candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The little-known Midwesterner hopes an Iowa victory will give him a boost into next-up New Hampshire and beyond, a strategy that carries potential benefits and risks.

If he wins Iowa, as he says he must, Pawlenty could emerge as the chief rival to Romney, who lost the GOP nomination in 2008 and ranks higher in polls this year. If Pawlenty falls short, however, he’ll have to reevaluate the viability of his bid for the Republican nomination, despite the two years’ groundwork he’s laid in his neighboring state.

“In Iowa, he is all in. All his cards are right out on the table,” said Bob Haus, a veteran Iowa GOP strategist who managed Fred Thompson’s 2008 caucus campaign and is uncommitted for 2012.

Pawlenty has used his visits to appeal to many of the sometimes fractious segments of Iowa’s GOP base, seeking to compete for all parts of the party.

“He fits with the social conservatives, has the background of a budget cutter, and he’s strong with national security conservatives. Plus, he’s a good guy, and he’s here, working it,” said Richard Schwarm, a confidant of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and a former state GOP chairman who so far hasn’t chosen a candidate to back in the caucuses.

Pawlenty appeared Monday on NBC’s “Today” show and CBS’s “The Early Show.”

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Online link to “Today” show interview: http://on.today.com

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May 23, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Republican Tim Pawlenty is betting it all on Iowa.

Republican Pawlenty betting it all on Iowa
May 23, 2011, 6:28 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Tim Pawlenty is betting it all on Iowa.

The former Minnesota governor will make his first campaign appearance Monday since announcing his candidacy for president in an Internet video. The setting for his visit — one block away from the Iowa State Capitol — underscores how important the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses are to his political future.

“My first campaign stop will be in Iowa, and that’s where I’m going to begin a campaign that tells the American people the truth,” Pawlenty said in the two-minute video released Sunday night. He challenged President Barack Obama to level with the American people about the depth of the nation’s challenges and to confront them.

The little-known Midwesterner hopes an Iowa victory will give him a boost into next-up New Hampshire and beyond, a strategy that carries potential benefits and risks.

If he wins Iowa, as he says he must, Pawlenty could emerge as the chief rival to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lost the GOP nomination in 2008 and ranks higher in polls this year.

If Pawlenty falls short, however, he’ll have to reevaluate the viability of his bid for the Republican nomination, despite the two years’ groundwork he’s laid in his neighboring state.

“In Iowa, he is all in. All his cards are right out on the table,” said Bob Haus, a veteran Iowa GOP strategist who managed Fred Thompson’s 2008 caucus campaign and is uncommitted for 2012. “Pawlenty is trying to set himself as the main challenger to Mitt Romney.”

Pawlenty’s visit Monday will be his 14th to Iowa since the 2008 election, more than any candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Pawlenty has used his visits to appeal to many of the sometimes fractious segments of Iowa’s GOP base. He has spoken to chambers of commerce, Christian conservative forums and tea party rallies with equal comfort, although some GOP strategists in Iowa say he doesn’t have an advantage with any of them.

“Pawlenty is competing for all parts of the party,” said Richard Schwarm, a confidant of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and a former state GOP chairman who so far hasn’t chosen a candidate to back in the caucuses. “He fits with the social conservatives, has the background of a budget cutter, and he’s strong with national security conservatives. Plus, he’s a good guy, and he’s here, working it.”

Strategically, Pawlenty has lined up an all-star team of consultants deeply rooted in Iowa Republican campaigns, winning presidential campaigns or, in some cases, both.

They include Iowa natives Terry Nelson and Sara Fagen, former political aides to President George W. Bush, who began working in the 1990s on statewide and caucus campaigns. Also on Pawlenty’s team are state GOP operatives with strong ties to John McCain’s 2008 campaign, as well as some former aides to Romney’s 2008 caucus campaign.

Such heavy staffing early in the campaign has sparked warnings from some Republicans that Pawlenty risks repeating some of McCain’s 2008 mistakes. The Arizona senator had lined up a dream team of national and Iowa advisers only to let several of them go when the campaign went broke the summer before the nominating contests began.

“You would assume they would have taken some strong lessons, learned what not to do and be pretty confident about how to raise enough money to keep the operation going,” said Haus, the consultant.

Pawlenty also has hired staff in New Hampshire and courted the powerbrokers in the nation’s first primary state. But he has less riding there than he does in Iowa, where he has said he has a cultural kinship and where fewer candidates may compete aggressively.

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May 20, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: A laid-back Midwestern Republican is running for president and will declare his candidacy on …

APNewsBreak: Aide: Pawlenty running for president
May 20, 2011, 2:49 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a laid-back Midwestern Republican who governed a Democratic-leaning state, is running for president and will declare his candidacy on Monday in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa, an adviser told The Associated Press.

The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity in advance of next week’s announcement, said Pawlenty will formally enter the race during a town hall-style event in Des Moines, Iowa.

He’s choosing to make his long-expected bid official in a critical state in his path to the GOP nomination. Advisers acknowledge that Pawlenty, 50, must win or turn in a strong showing during next winter’s caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa to have any chance of becoming the Republican who will challenge President Barack Obama, a Democrat, next November.

After Monday’s announcement, he will head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C.

The move is no surprise.

Pawlenty been laying the groundwork for a national campaign since John McCain passed him over in 2008 as his vice presidential nominee. He has worked to boost his national profile, assemble a staff, travel the country and build a fundraising network, all while positioning himself as a Republican with a record of resisting increases in taxes and government spending. He left the governor’s post in January and he took the first step toward the presidency two months later by setting up an exploratory committee.

In the early stages of the campaign, he has struggled to raise his standing in polls or attract a niche constituency as Republicans with more star power — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and celebrity businessman Donald Trump — dangled themselves as possible candidates, only to opt out of bids.

Pawlenty has some big obstacles as he seeks the GOP nomination in a wide-open field.

He is not nearly as well known nationally as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and even libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul. And others with even bigger names — Sarah Palin — still may enter the fray. So too may a fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is a darling of the tea party and has indicated she’s likely to launch a campaign soon.

The low-key Pawlenty also is fighting an impression at least within the GOP establishment that he’s too bland to excite voters. He also has no personal wealth and isn’t uniquely aligned with any one Republican faction — like social conservatives or fiscal Republicans — as are other candidates.

But in a GOP field with no clear favorite, Pawlenty hopes that he can cobble together a winning coalition of voters by attracting a wide array of Republicans, from religious conservatives to tea party adherents to establishment figures. As he travels the country, he boasts of reining in state spending and blocking tax hikes during two terms as Minnesota’s governor, as well as stressing his working-class roots and evangelical Christian faith.

“I’m the only candidate in the field who can unite the whole Republican Party, not just one part of it, in a genuine and authentic way, and then go out an appeal to the whole country,” Pawlenty said this week before a fundraiser in Minnesota.

He points to his record in Minnesota as proof that he can have appeal across the ideological spectrum.

Pawlenty, who passed up an opportunity to run for a third term as governor to seek the presidency, won the governors’ office twice without a majority of the vote in races that included third-party candidates. During his tenure, Pawlenty had to contend with a Legislature that was partly or fully controlled by Democrats the eight years he was governor.

Minnesota’s divided government led to repeated legislative battles and a partial government shutdown one year. Pawlenty also frequently vetoed tax and spending bills, earning a reputation in the GOP as a fiscal conservative. He pleased social conservatives as well by signing new abortion restrictions and laws favored by pro-gun groups.

But some of his past actions also have drawn tea party skepticism.

Even some Republicans flinched when he used billions in federal stimulus dollars and once agreed to hike state cigarette charges to balance Minnesota’s budget. And Democrats pound him frequently over the $5 billion deficit his Minnesota successor is coping with for the upcoming state budget, although the state will turn a small surplus this summer when the last fiscal year under Pawlenty’s direct control ends.

Pawlenty’s former embrace of energy policies scorned by conservatives — such as a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases — have also been problematic. Pawlenty has disavowed his former stance and apologized for the “clunker” in his record.

Even so, it’s not his record that’s likely to be his biggest challenge. It’s being heard in a crowded field.

Part of the reason: unlike others, he typically shies from the caustic comments and headline-grabbing issues. It’s part of a strategy to come off as a serious-minded candidate in sober times. But his approach has also played into the characterization of him as dull.

Advisers hope that Pawlenty’s ability to connect with small crowds in diners and living rooms will help him win over skeptics in the places where he needs to shine — Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters demand their candidates engage in that type of retail politics. He’s somewhat of a natural at it. He’s good with small talk, often makes goofy poses in keepsake photos and sticks around to shake all hands, helping explain why he’s notoriously behind schedule.

In those settings, he discusses not just what he’d do for the country but also much about his personal story: his boyhood in a blue-collar household in a meatpacking town, his mother’s death of cancer in his teen years. As an adult, he went on to a white-collar job as a lawyer and set down a political path took him from a suburban city hall to a seat in the state Legislature to, eventually, the governor’s post.

“He is doing the soft sell and the soft sell works in the long run,” said Andy Brehm, a Republican strategist in Minnesota. “This is an entirely self-made guy. I don’t think you could ask for a better spokesman for the free market ideas. He’s worked himself up really from nothing.”

Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, a former judge, have two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara.

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May 19, 2011

Republicans looking to unseat President Barack Obama charged Thursday that he …

Romney: Obama ‘threw Israel under the bus’
May 19, 2011, 9:35 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Republicans looking to unseat President Barack Obama charged Thursday that he undermined the sensitive and delicate negotiations for Middle East peace with his outline for resumed talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Obama, whom he served as U.S. ambassador to China until last month, undercut an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to build trust. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Obama “threw Israel under the bus” and handed the Palestinians a victory even before negotiations between the parties could resume. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called it “the most dangerous speech ever made by an American president for the survival of Israel.”

Foreign policy has hardly been the center of the debate among the still-forming GOP presidential field. Instead, the candidates and potential candidates have kept their focus — like the country’s — on domestic issues that are weighing on voters and their pocketbooks. Obama’s speech provided one of the first opportunities for Republicans to assert their foreign policy differences with Obama and his Democratic administration.

Obama endorsed Palestinians’ demands for the borders of its future state based on 1967 borders — before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. That was a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy.

Campaigning here in the state that hosts the first presidential nominating primary, Huntsman also said the United States should respect Israel and work to foster trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

“If we respect and recognize Israel as the ally that it is, we probably ought to listen to what they think is best,” said Huntsman, who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush before surprising his party and serving Obama, a Democrat.

He acknowledged he didn’t watch Obama’s speech and was reacting to news coverage — or, as he called it, “the aftermath.”

“It is disrespectful of Israel for America to dictate negotiating terms to our ally,” Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It is not appropriate for the president to dictate the terms.”

Instead, the United States should work with Israel to push for peace without acceding to the Palestinians, he said.

Gingrich said Israel simply cannot go back to the 1967 borders and expect to remain secure, given technological advancements that would allow its enemies to fire rockets deeper into the state.

“Get a map of the region and look at what Hamas does in firing missiles into Israel,” Gingrich told The Associated Press. “The president should have said that Hamas has to abandon its determination to destroy Israel.”

Obama urged Israel to accept that it can never have a truly peaceful nation based on “permanent occupation.” That follows what other Republicans have painted as hostility from this administration toward a stalwart ally in the Middle East.

“The current administration needs to come to terms with its confused and dangerous foreign policy soon, as clarity and security are the necessary conditions of any serious and coherent American set of policies,” Santorum said in a statement.

Obama’s speech at the State Department addressed the uprisings sweeping the Arab world. Speaking to audiences abroad and at home, he sought to leave no doubt that the U.S. stands behind the protesters who have swelled from nation to nation across the Middle East and North Africa.

“We know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith,” the president said.

But the remarks only muddied things, especially on the dicey issue of Jerusalem, said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided,” Pawlenty said. “At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a tea party favorite who is leaning toward a run, called the border suggestions “a shocking display of betrayal” to Israel.

“Today President Barack Obama has again indicated that his policy towards Israel is to blame Israel first,” she said in a statement.

On Twitter, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t directly address the speech but urged Obama to publicly welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead of ushering him into private meetings away from reporters, as has occurred on Netanyahu’s previous visits. The two leaders will talk Friday at the White House.

“Dear Mr. President, please allow our ally, PM Netanyahu, to respectfully arrive through the front door this time. Thanks, Concerned Americans,” she tweeted.

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May 17, 2011

Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to …

Trump says no to presidential run
May 16, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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NEW YORK (AP) — After months of flirting with politics, Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to stick with hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice” over a bid for the Republican nomination.

The reality TV star and real estate mogul made his announcement at a Manhattan hotel as NBC, which airs his show, rolled out its fall lineup.

“I will not be running for president as much as I’d like to,” Trump said.

Trump’s office released a formal statement just as he was taking the stage. In it, a confident Trump said he felt he could win the Republican primary and beat President Barack Obama in the general election but had come to realize a presidential campaign could not be run half-heartedly.

“Ultimately, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector,” Trump said.

Several Republicans are seeking the nomination in a race that lacks a clear front-runner. Among the top hopefuls are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The GOP is still waiting to hear whether Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will get in the race.

Trump has floated the idea of a presidential candidacy in both 1988 and 2000 but claimed he was more serious than ever this time, citing the weak economy and the sense that the United States was in decline. Some public opinion polls showed him leading the slow-to-coalesce Republican field.

In the past few months, he delivered speeches to national GOP groups and traveled to early primary states like New Hampshire and Nevada. During that time, he reignited the so-called “birther” controversy by perpetuating falsehoods about Obama’s birth place, insisting that questions were unanswered about whether the president was born in Hawaii. He amassed admiration from many on the far right who have insisted Obama was born overseas and, thus, wasn’t eligible to serve as president.

Obama finally distributed his long-form birth certificate earlier this month, indirectly casting Trump as a carnival barker and the controversy as a sideshow. Trump took credit for the release even though it robbed his candidacy of its signature issue.

Obama retaliated days later in his monologue at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, where he poked fun at the birth certificate controversy and mocked Trump and his television show. A stone-faced Trump heard the barbs from both Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. A day later, NBC interrupted the airing of Trump’s show with word of an Obama announcement — within 45 minutes the president informed the nation and the world that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been killed.

Whatever buzz over a Trump candidacy was left fully faded.

Trump would have brought to the race both celebrity and the no-holds-barred criticism of Obama that many Republicans are hungry for in a GOP nominee. But, as it has for months, Trump’s participation also could have made the GOP nomination fight a less serious affair, seeming small by comparison to Obama and his presidency.

Trump is the second Republican in a matter of days to say no to a bid for the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he wouldn’t seek the presidency.

At the Hilton hotel in New York, NBC said that “The Celebrity Apprentice” would be coming back in midseason. But Bob Greenblatt, the head of NBC entertainment, said the only mystery would be whether Trump was host.

Trump said the show has made a lot of money for charity and that he wanted to continue as host.

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May 16, 2011

Mike Huckabee’s exit widens an already GOP open field …

Huckabee’s exit widens an already open field
May 15, 2011, 12:46 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal
By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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WASHINGTON(AP) — Mike Huckabee‘s decision to forgo a shot at the U.S. presidency
further muddies the field for a worthy Republican challenger to
President Barack Obama, and leaves America‘s social conservatives
without a clear candidate to throw their support behind.

Huckabee on Saturday night became the latest Republican to opt out of
running, declaring that he would stick with his lucrative career as a
television and radio personality over a race that promises to be both
costly and caustic.

By joining Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, South Dakota Sen. John Thune
and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence on the sidelines, the former Arkansas
governor underlined that for all of Obama’s vulnerabilities on the
economy, taking on his re-election machine and potential $1 billion
treasure chest remains a daunting task.

The 55-year-old Baptist minister, who won several state Republican
primaries and caucuses in an unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid,
insisted that he could have captured the Republican nomination, citing
polls that showed he could score strong even in the Northeast and among
the less conservative rank-and-file party members.

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” Huckabee, the winner of
the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said on his Fox News Channel show.
“All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” Huckabee said Saturday
night on his Fox News Channel show.

He described the decision as a
spiritual one.
“Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have not
only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace,” he said. “Being
president is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human
capacity. For me, to do it apart from the inner confidence that I was
undertaking it without God’s full blessing is simply unthinkable.”

The announcement makes an already wide-open Republican field even more
unpredictable.

Huckabee is a prominent conservative who would have been a serious
contender for the party nod with instant support among Christian
evangelicals who dominate the Iowa caucuses and the early South
Carolina primary.

And with him out of the race, there is no clear
candidate out there to for them to rally around.

Onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been making a concerted effort
to reach out to the right. Although he’s been noting his recent
conversion to Catholicism, he’s hampered by two divorces and an
adulterous history.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney must explain
his change of heart over the years on positions on guns, gay rights and
abortion; health care also is a problem for him.

Minnesota’s
ex-governor, Tim Pawlenty, has had to apologize for backing climate
change legislation.

Donald Trump? Highly unlikely.

With so many social conservatives looking for a home, the void could
prompt 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep.
Michele Bachmann to get in the race.

Palin has yet to say if she will
run, while Bachmann is inching toward a bid.

Several other possible
candidates, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, are in waiting mode.

The lack of a clear Republican frontrunner reflects Obama’s perceived
strength as a candidate less than a year-and-a-half before the
election.

Despite uneven economic growth and continued sluggishness in
the employment market, Obama will have the advantage of being an
incumbent president with a seemingly unmatchable capacity to generate
cash for his campaign.

And while events could change dramatically
between now and the presidential vote, polls show Obama in a stronger
position now than he was before the mission that killed al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden.

Republican candidates were quick to praise Huckabee after his
announcement, making obvious plays for his backers.
“His voters are very independent and they’re going to go where they
believe that America needs to go both in conservative and spiritual
values,” Gingrich said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

”Gov.
Huckabee’s is going to remain a very important figure in the
conservative movement and I suspect that he’s going to have a role to
play for years to come.”

Pawlenty said he’d work hard to gain the support of millions of
Americans who have backed Huckabee, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick
Santorum praised the TV host for praying before deciding not to run.

Santorum added that he wanted to talk with Huckabee about fighting for
traditional values even as some Republicans “seek to form a ‘truce’ on
social issues.”

That was a slap at Daniels, who is considering a run and has suggested
that Republicans downplay their focus on cultural issues like abortion
while the nation’s economy is so fragile.

Huckabee praised several potential Republican nominees who, he said,
hold points of view similar to his own.

A notable omission from the
list: Romney.
“There has been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney and me. And we don’t
socialize together. We’re not close, you know, in personal ways,”
Huckabee said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”But I want to make it very clear
today, if Mitt Romney is the nominee for our party, I will support him
because I believe that Mitt Romney would be a better president of the
United States than Barack Obama on any day.”

Had he chosen to run, Huckabee would have been forced to give up the
lucrative media career he’s enjoyed since his unsuccessful presidential
bid four years ago.

In addition to his TV show, he hosts a nationally
syndicated radio program, gives paid speeches around the country and
has even launched a series of animated videos for children on American
history.

“I just somehow believe deep within me that it wasn’t the right time
and it wasn’t to be,” he told “Fox News Sunday” while revisiting the
decision.

The former governor said that raising the necessary cash to run for
president wasn’t an issue in his decision, though it may play a major
part for others.

One candidate who wouldn’t have that problem is Trump,
the billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV star who’s been
toying with the idea of a Republican run.
“Mike, enjoy the show,” Trump said in an on-air message on Fox,
directly after Huckabee’s announcement. “Your ratings are terrific.
You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in
Florida. Good luck.”

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April 13, 2011

Tim Pawlenty says “I’m running for President” and comments on Trump as possible opponent

Tim Pawlenty says “I’m running for President” and comments on Trump as possible opponent
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com


Potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is a guest tonight on “Piers Morgan Tonight” and he responds to today’s poll that puts him at just 2% (compared to Donald Trump at 19%). “Our trajectory is kind of a tortoise and hare strategy,” he tells Piers Morgan. As for Trump: “I think he’s funny, I think he’s exciting, he’s obviously very successful. I think he’d bring a lot to the debate.” (Then, he comments on Trump’s recent “birther” rhetoric and makes a hair joke.)

Would he accept an offer to be Trump’s VP?

“I’m running for President,” said Pawlenty, who has formed an exploratory committee but has yet to formally declare. “I’m not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for Vice President. I’m focused on running for President.” (Pawlenty said he would make a formal announcement in the coming weeks.)

Watch the full interview tonight at 9pmET/PT. Also on the show is Pres. Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who talks Trump as well.

Pawlenty later clarified: “I just hope that the country will take the full measure of all the candidates and make an informed decision, I think they will…I’ve got an exploratory committee up and running and we’ll have a final or full announcement on that in the coming weeks. It won’t be too much longer. But everything is headed in that direction.

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