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Pawlenty's Pitch: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

6:39 PM, Aug 12, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Des Moines
The people who show up at the Iowa straw poll and Iowa caucuses tend to be far more ideological than your typical voter. That's because it takes more time and effort to participate in a caucus than show up to the polls and check a box. So it was somewhat striking that one day before a potentially make-or-break performance at the Iowa straw poll, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty showed up to the Iowa state fair, took his place at the Des Moines Register soap box, and delivered a relatively non-ideological speech about the importance of the economy and jobs.

Pawlenty Tim

"One of the main issues facing Iowa and for our country is whether people have access to jobs," Pawlenty said at the beginning of his speech. (Iowa's unemployment rate is 6 percent.) "And if we had a chance to go around this gathering and ask each of you what matters to you most, I think we'd hear about your family, I think we'd hear about the importance of having housing and being able to pay for your mortgage or your rent. I think we'd hear about your concerns about putting gas in your car. I think we'd hear concerns about being able to pay for your health care and on down the list, all of those things and more--taking care of your kids, getting them on to college--that require money. And for most Americans and most Iowans, the way that they get money is to have a job."

"I've got the most specific, most aggressive, boldest pro-jobs plan of any candidate in this race, including the president," said Pawlenty. "It's available at but here's the Readers' Digest version. Number One: We've got to get the business tax rates from some of the most expensive in the world to more competitive." Second on Pawlenty's agenda is "an American energy policy, not a Middle Eastern energy policy." 

"And then we need to fix health care reform the right way ... like I did in Minnesota," he said.

Compare and contrast Pawlenty's remarks with the rhetoric of Michele Bachmann, who has surged to first place in the Iowa polls. For Bachmann, stopping Obamacare--the issue that most energized the Tea Party movement and conservatives since Obama took office--never loses its primacy. For Pawlenty, health care reform is mentioned third on his economic agenda--after lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and weaning America off of foreign energy.

While Pawlenty stressed the importance of money in one's pocket, Bachmann voted for a bill in the Minnesota legislature that raised the state's cigarette tax because it was tied to a pro-life measure. "I believe you can get money wrong, but you can't get life wrong," Bachmann explained at Thursday night's debate in Ames. Bachmann seems to be more in touch with conservative activists in Iowa, but we'll see how Pawlenty's pitch for sound economic stewardship pays off.

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