Former Minnesota Governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty tells Newsmax it’s “head-spinning” how many times the Obama administration has changed its position on the healthcare reform bill — and insists that the fight to overturn Obamacare is “just beginning.”
The Republican lawmaker, who has been named as a strong contender for selection as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, was asked if he would accept that role if offered, and he said simply: “Anybody would be honored to be asked to run for vice president.”
Pawlenty served as Minnesota’s governor from 2003 to 2011, after five terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He officially announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in May 2011, but dropped out in August and endorsed Mitt Romney in September 2011.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Pawlenty was asked if he agrees with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and several other governors who say they will reject Obamacare and refuse to implement the law.
“I certainly did when I was governor of Minnesota, including turning back or refusing federal money that was attached to implementing part of it,” he said.
“My view is that it is a bad law. I know Governor Romney believes that’s not the way forward for our nation, and I think governors are saying this is something that should be tackled on a state-by-state basis. We shouldn’t have a top-down, heavy-handed, Washington, D.C.-directed approach to healthcare reform.
“So I applaud and I know Governor Romney applauds individual states taking the initiative and saying let us innovate, let us do it the best way for our particular state, and rejecting this kind of Washington approach. So I think that’s a set of initiatives by those governors that should be saluted.”
Pawlenty said if he were a governor today “I would do what I did when I was there, which was to push back and fight against Obamacare.
“By the way, I joined the Florida lawsuit that became the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit, arguing why Obamacare was unconstitutional and otherwise unwise. So I’m a very strong critic of Obamacare and didn’t implement it and pushed back against it while I was governor, and I would continue to do that.”
The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate as a tax, while the White House has insisted it is not a tax.
Pawlenty commented: “First of all the Obama administration has been horribly inconsistent and flipped and flopped on this issue. They started out in their own case saying it wasn’t a tax. Then I think they realized they were in trouble in terms of the legal analysis the court might do so they switched their argument back to say indeed it is a tax and it’s under the Congress’ taxing authority.
“And now after the decision where the court says it is a tax the Obama administration says no, it’s not a tax, so you can hardly follow their zigging and zagging on this. It’s head-spinning how many times they’ve changed positions.
“Governor Romney believes it’s not a tax and his campaign has said it’s an unconstitutional penalty and is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. I think that’s a good analysis. I agree with Mitt’s position on that.”
Republicans in the House are moving forward with a repeal vote against Obamacare next week, although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that the chances of repeal are slim. If Obama wins re-election, are we stuck with Obamacare? Pawlenty was asked.
“I hope not. I think all Republicans, all conservatives, all people who favor markets and would like to make sure they maintain market principles and individual focus in the healthcare delivery system would like to see Obamacare repealed and replaced,” he responded.
“So just because the courts have said this is constitutional in their opinion doesn’t mean that Congress in the future or the present can’t change, alter, repeal, and replace Obamacare. Whether that takes six months or six years or longer, we need to work at it. It’s an important proposition for our country. It’s an important proposition for the conservative movement, and I don’t think this fight is over at all. I think it’s just beginning.”
Pawlenty was asked if he is being vetted by the Romney campaign as a possible vice presidential candidate.
“Well, I am a national co-chair of the Romney campaign and we have a policy of not talking about the VP process,” he told Newsmax.
“I’m going to abide by and respect that. He’s going to have a lot of great choices to pick from. There’s a tremendous amount of talent in the conservative movement. I’m sure he’ll make a terrific choice. But as for the details about that, we’re not talking about it.”
Asked if he would consider accepting the nomination if it is offered to him, he said: “I think I can help him best in a variety of other ways, including being a volunteer surrogate for him. But again, he’s going to have a great set of people to choose from. I want to be as helpful to him as I can. And anybody would be honored to be asked to run for vice president.”
With Romney and Obama in basically a dead heat in the polls, Pawlenty explained what he thinks Romney should do to win over the undecided vote and more independents.
“I think Governor Romney just needs to continue to present his case for why Barack Obama shouldn’t be re-elected and why Mitt Romney would be a better president, and it’s a great case to make.
“Barack Obama has presided over a failed presidency. This is somebody who came into office and broke his promises repeatedly — for example, if we passed the stimulus bill we could get the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent. That was the prediction.
“Turned out it went up to 10 percent and more, and it’s still over 8 percent for 40 consecutive months — 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed or have given up looking for work.
“We have millions and millions and millions of Americans hurting, not able to attach to this economy in a way that allows them to have hopes and dreams and take care of their family, and on this economic measure and many others, President Obama has failed.
“In contrast to that, Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts reduced unemployment, increased employment, got government spending to slow down and under control, got the state workforce to a lower level, reformed government more broadly – those are the kinds of leadership dynamics and resolves that we want.
“I think making that case, how he can run this economy, lead the economy to a better place, is one of Mitt Romney’s strongest suits.”
According to Public Policy Polling, Minnesota with its 10 electoral votes is leaning toward Obama in the 2012 election.
Pawlenty observed: “Minnesota has the unfortunate distinction of having the longest unbroken streak of voting for Democrats for president of any state in the nation, including places like Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Hawaii, and others.
“But we have shown that under certain circumstances in certain years, Republicans can win statewide in Minnesota. I did it twice and others have done it as well. So it is possible.
“It is an uphill climb, but Minnesota is a state that should be taken seriously by Governor Romney’s campaign. I know that they do take it seriously. I know that they’d like to win here, but as you know, you’ve got to make some decisions as the campaign unfolds into the fall where your best shots are.
“While Minnesota leans Democrat, it’s something to keep an eye on, to see if there’s some movement back towards the Republican way as we get into the fall.”
In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Pawlenty also said Romney is the only presidential candidate who can keep the United States from falling off a so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year.
And he declared that America should “absolutely leave the military option on the table” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons development program.
See the exclusive excerpts from the Newsmax interview with former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty:
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