During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning, GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty took issue with rival contender Michele Bachmann's record, as well as critical remarks conservative columnist David Brooks recently directed at the Republican party.
"I like Congresswoman Bachmann, I've campaigned for her, I respect her," said Pawlenty on the program. "But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It's nonexistent. And so we're not looking for folks who, you know, just have speech capabilities, we're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I've done that, she hasn't."
Pawlenty, who opted against seeking a third term as governor of Minnesota last year, declined to offer a direct response when asked if Bachmann -- who currently represents Minnesota's sixth congressional district in the U.S. House -- is "too controversial." NBC's David Gregory presented the question to Pawlenty in the context of rhetoric Bachmann has used to criticize the Obama administration, such as her characterization of the federal government as "gangster government."
"Well, everybody's got different rhetoric that they use," explained Pawlenty. "The federal government's out of control. Let's face it, it's plain for everybody to see."
The former governor said he's "used similar terms" in criticizing the Obama White House. Asked if he believes the "gangster government" characterization was appropriate he said, "Well, I've called it incompetent, I've called them out of control, I've called them misguided, I've called them failed. I mean, pick your choice. But the point is, this is a group of people who are disconnected from the economic needs of the people in this country. People are hurting. We've got nearly $4 a gallon gas, we've got crushing levels of unemployment. We have a federal government that's out of control."
On Sunday morning, Gregory also asked Pawlenty about the following opinion offered by Brooks last week in a New York Times column on the actions demonstrated by Republicans in ongoing negotiations to raise the nation's debt limit:
The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is -- a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don't take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
"Well, with all due respect to, to David Brooks, this is not the time for Rockefeller Republicanism," said Pawlenty. "We've got a country that is sinking. We've got a country that is on the verge of a crisis in the debt ceiling issue, and that's just one symptom of much larger problems. And so, if the answer is just to split the difference with the Democrats and be for tax increases, be for more spending, but just a little less than the Democrats, that's not what I believe."
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