Pawlenty touts himself as the ‘serious’ candidate

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Tim Pawlenty tried to set himself apart from the other potential GOP presidential candidates on Tuesday, telling Piers Morgan that he thought there needed to be a “serious” candidate, something he suggested that Mitt Romney, currently considered the front-runner, was not.

“My view of the race is short,” he said. “You’re going to have Mitt Romney who will start out as the front-runner with the most name ID and money and the like, and the other end of the continuum, you’ll have Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, maybe Hulk Hogan will get in the race too. Who knows. There’s a role for a serious person who has tackled these kinds of issues.”

(If the reference to pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan appeared to demean Bachmann, Palin and Trump as candidates, it’s worth noting that Pawlenty’s predecessor as governor of Minnesota was Jesse “The Body” Ventura, the former pro wrestler).

Pawlenty emphasized his experience dealing with the issues facing the country today, setting himself apart from Obama’s short career in government before being elected.

“We just had a president elected who had never run anything before,” he said. “He’s clearly in over his head.”

“We can’t afford another whimsical election,” Pawlenty said.

Furthering the image of him as a “serious” candidate, Pawlenty dismissed Trump’s claims, saying he had no doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii and that he had a birth certificate.

“Let’s focus on the bread and butter issues I just mentioned,” he said, brushing off the issue.

On that note, he told Morgan that he would not be anyone’s vice president.

“I’m running for president,” he said. “I’m not putting my head in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president.”

Asked whether this was an official announcement – (Pawlenty is still in the exploratory phase, so officially he is not yet a candidate for the Republican nomination) – Pawlenty stated the obvious.

“I have an exploratory committee running,” he said. “Everything is headed in that direction.”