03/08/2011 07:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Late Returns: Pawlenty Pulls A Punch

Kendra Marr notes today that when Greta Van Susteren served up a golden opportunity for Tim Pawlenty to take a shot at his 2012 rival Mitt Romney over Romneycare, Pawlenty "quickly side-stepped" and invoked Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment":

"Rather than criticizing somebody else's approach, I'll tell you my approach," he said. "Don't drag problems into Washington D.C. or the state capital. Empower individuals and families in a marketplace. If they need financial help, give it to them directly, right to them in the form of a voucher, credit. Don't run the money through some big bureaucracy and create a marketplace not a government centric arena for these services to be made and delivered."

Why so gun shy, T-Paw? A year ago, the former Minnesota governor was more than happy to take Romney on directly. He told the Nashua Telegraph, "Looking at the Massachusetts experience...it would not be one I would want for the country to follow any further."

And back in August of 2009, Pawlenty was laying the groundwork for this approach to battling Romney in a Washington Post op-ed:

Massachusetts's experience should caution Congress against focusing primarily on access. While the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of uninsured people, costs have been dramatically higher than expected. The result? Increased taxes and fees. The Boston Globe has reported on a current short-term funding gap and the need to obtain a new federal bailout.

Imagine the scope of tax increases, or additional deficit spending, if that approach is utilized for the entire country.

But maybe Pawlenty is being weirdly consistent. This isn't the first time he's pulled a punch where Romney and RomneyCare are concerned. The last time I remember Pawlenty opting out of mounting an attack was back in July of 2009...in an interview with Greta Van Susteren.


High Schools nationwide are either not interested in "winning the future" or not convinced they need President Barack Obama to regurgitate his State Of The Union address at their commencement in order to win it: a "nationwide competition to decide which high school wins a commencement speech by President Obama" is apparently experiencing a "shortage of applications less than a week before the deadline." [CBS News]

Time's Joe Klein sizes up Romney's defense of his own health care reform thusly: "the embarrassing spectacle of an intelligent man acting like a semi-coherent jerk." Says Greg Sargent: "Romney is now becoming, in the eyes of major pundits, a hapless, undignified and even comic figure." If true, then major pundits are finally aligning with Romney's GOP rivals (save for, occasionally, Tim Pawlenty, apparently.) [Swampland; The Plum Line]

Newt Gingrich wants to win the week by going to war with Libya. "Exercise a no-fly zone this evening," says Gingrich, who probably really means that we should mull the possibility of forming an ad-hoc panel to consider forming an exploratory committee that will eventually put up a website about bombing Libya's air defenses. [ThinkProgress]

Maine Republicans are considering unseating one of their two Senator ladies who like to pointlessly drag out every Senate debate based on spurious reasons that don't make sense, leaving them with only Senator Susan Collins to perform this vital legislative role. [TPMDC]

In case you missed it, here's Sam Stein's interview with new Presidential aspirant Buddy Roemer. [Huffington Post]

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