Pawlenty defends '9-iron' comment, blasts stimulus

11:45 AM, Feb 22, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Governor Tim Pawlenty concluded a high-profile weekend with a Sunday morning appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The one-on-one interview came after Pawlenty finished fourth in the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw ballot of potential presidential contenders.  The Minnesota governor was also forced to defend his much-discussed comment from Friday's address to the conservative political group.

During his speech on Friday, Pawlenty told the audience that people could learn a lot from Tiger Woods' wife.

"She said, I've had enough," Pawlenty said Friday.  "She said, no more.  I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government in this country."

While the comment drew cheers and applause from the audience, it also received a lot of criticism.  A Pawlenty Facebook fan called the comment "stupid" and one blogger from the conservative blog PowerLine felt the analogy was "weirdly inappropriate."  New York Times columnist Gail Collins also highlighted the comment in her Saturday column.

"Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory asked Pawlenty, "With that kind-of rallying cry, do you really expect people to take you seriously?"

"I think people still enjoy a little sense of humor," Pawlenty replied.  "If we've gotten to the point where you can't make a joke, I think we're in trouble."

Brian Melendez, Minnesota's DFL chairman, said Sunday he was less concerned about Pawlenty's "lame joke" and more concerned about Minnesota's deficit and downgraded credit rating.

"If that's what taking a golf club to the windows of government means, I don't think it's a very good result," Melendez said.

During Sunday's "Meet the Press" interview, Pawlenty echoed his call for tax cuts to help the economy and said the federal stimulus was "largely a waste of money."

"What about the 12,000 jobs that were created in your state as a result of it?" Gregory asked.

"Well those are mostly government jobs," Pawlenty said, adding that the federal government should have done more to produce private sector jobs.

Pawlenty is often mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012.  He told Gregory he'll probably make a decision on whether to run in early 2011, after his final term as governor concludes.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)

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