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Friday, August 12, 2011

Pawlenty Slams Bachmann's Poor Public Service Record & False Statements (2011 Ames Iowa Debate)

Tim Pawlenty keeps the heat on Michele Bachmann

Tim Pawlenty didn’t back off his new Minnesota mean tack Friday morning, doubling down on the criticisms of Michele Bachmann he lobbed during Thursday night’s presidential debate.

“She says, ‘I led the charge against Obamacare.’ Well, we ended up with Obamacare. ‘I led the charge against TARP;’ we ended up with TARP. ‘I led the charge against more government spending;’ we ended up with more government spending,” Pawlenty told POLITICO’s Mike Allen at a Playbook Breakfast in Des Moines.

“Everything she’s led the charge against, she failed to accomplish,” Pawlenty said. “Nobody’s questioning her spine, we’re questioning her lack of results.”

Pawlenty said that regardless of the fact that Bachmann is the only woman in the GOP field, it’s not about gender. It’s about the issues, results, and leading and saving our country.”

The exchange came just hours after Pawlenty and Bachmann engaged in their fiercest and most direct confrontations of the campaign so far, and a day before the critical Ames straw poll that could ultimately make or break Pawlenty’s candidacy.

Pawlenty’s more sharp-edged approach was a break from the June debate, when he awkwardly backed away from earlier criticisms of front-runner Mitt Romney. But Pawlenty said Friday that he’s just answering the questions asked of him.

“No matter which way you calibrate that, a bunch of people are upset one way or the other,” he said. “So you just gotta answer the question.”

He played down a joke he made during the debate that jabbed at Romney’s considerable wealth.

“I was just having some fun with that and pulling Mitt’s chain,” he said.

Pawlenty insisted there’s no personal bad blood between him and Romney.

“I like Mitt,” he said. “We don’t have any personal tension or animosity.”

Asked by POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin whether he’s prepared to slim down his campaign if Ames doesn’t go well and a state-by-state slog emerges, Pawlenty expressed confidence that he’ll make a strong showing at Ames but acknowledged that he may be forced to pare down his campaign if he doesn’t. “We may not have any choice if it went that way.”

“We’re seeing some nice movement in the numbers. I can’t tell you that we’re gonna win it tomorrow or that we need to win it,” he said. “I think it’ll be a good result.”

Pawlenty had harsh words for the so-called congressional super committee charged with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction.

“I think it’s super stupid,” he said to laughter. “We have a Congress and we have a president, do your job.”

Pawlenty dodged several questions about what he thought would have happened if the debt ceiling hadn’t been lifted by the Aug. 2 deadline, but pressed repeatedly, he came down somewhere between the conservative debt-ceiling skeptics and economists who say it would have been disastrous.

“It probably would have been very negative for a while, but it’s very negative right now anyway,” he said.

Pawlenty said his news diet includes The Economist, USA Today while he’s on the road, the Star Tribune in Minnesota and clips from other outlets his campaign staff sends him. But his news consumption habits have changed of late: Pawlenty said he lost his iPad a couple weeks in San Francisco and still hasn’t bought a new one.

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Sources: Fox News, Newsweek, Politico, Youtube, Google Maps

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