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A Modern, Not a Moderate, Party By: Tim Pawlenty
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 08, 2008


The following is the speech Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty delivered on November 14, 2008, as part of Restoration Weekend, the annual event of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. -- The Editors.

Governor Tim Pawlenty:
Good morning. Thank you very much for the chance to come by and share a few thoughts with you about the state of our grand conservative movement. I am joined this morning by my lovely wife and the First Lady of Minnesota, Mary Pawlenty. Some months ago, we were standing in the bathroom of our home in Egan, Minnesota. I had a rough go the preceding weeks. The Minnesota legislature was pounding on me. It's overwhelmingly Democratic. Things weren't going well on the trail for John McCain. I'd been traveling a lot, eating junk food, and I was feeling kind of discouraged and weary and beaten down.

And I looked into the mirror and Mary was standing not far from me. I said, "Honey, look at me. I mean, my hairline is receding, my face is getting more wrinkled, and the crow's feet are growing by the day. I haven't been working out. I've been eating fast food. I'm getting flabby. The love handles are flopping over the side of my belt." I said, "Is there anything you can tell me that would be encouraging or hopeful?" And she looked at me and she said, "Well, Tim, there's nothing wrong with your eyesight."

No, that's just a story, but it fits into the exercise that the conservative movement is going through, and I suspect will go through, for weeks and months and maybe years to come, which is trying to determine: What happened? Who are we? Where did we go? Where have we been? How can we win? And I want to share a few thoughts with you in abbreviated form this morning. I think that you're going to hear a lot of different things in these coming weeks from commentators and pundits and many others. And we should listen and we should debate and we should think and we should reflect, and then we should plot a strategy going forward.

But I think we have to realize that if we're the market party, we're the ones who say the marketplace is the place to make decisions and distribute and allocate resources and the like, that means that in politics, the election is the marketplace measurement. It's the metric that tells us how we're doing. And you have to be a real spinner of the facts to look at what's taken place in these last two election cycles and conclude that the marketplace is signaling a positive response to our product and our services. In fact, what it is saying is that the customers, the people that we serve, prefer the candidates and goods and services of our competitors. Now, there are reasons for that. There are tactical reasons and other reasons, some of which are just mundane things, but I will share them with you quickly before we get to the more important things.

Barack Obama had the capacity to demolish the campaign finance system – which by the way should be demolished – and had the capacity to raise almost $1 billion. He out-raised and spent John McCain's campaign three- or four-to-one, as he would any other normal candidate. It is a quantum change in the way that campaigns are run and financed, both in manner and in degree. It catapulted past us in an amazing fashion. Barack Obama as an incumbent president with four years to go will probably raise and spend $1.5 billion by himself as he presumably runs for reelection in four years. Anyone who would want to try to match that would need to raise $1 million a day or more every day starting yesterday.

Now, you can say, well, it doesn't matter. It matters, at least tactically. Another reality that sets in is Barack Obama is a very gifted communicator. The messenger is not the message. We should not confuse those two things. But in this world, the way it works with the media and marketing and the like, we need to be able to communicate, not for purposes of manipulation, not for the purposes of entertainment, not for the purposes of obfuscation, but for the purposes of educating and informing people about why our ideas and values and principles are the right ones for them, and ideally to motivate and inspire them to go out and do the good and hard work and the noble work of campaigning and public service.

It's really important in the world that we live in today. If Harry Reid was the Democrat's candidate and he went out and gave the exact same speeches as Barack Obama, John McCain would be President today. Simply, the point of the little illustration is the power of the ability to communicate. Again, the messenger is not the message, and we should not confuse those two, but it is tactical.

But on to the more important. If you look at the market share measurement of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, we have to be candid with each other. Consultants tell us people in office just go tell the audience just what they want to hear. They don't want to be challenged. They don't want to be educated. Just tell them what they want to hear. They want to have their existing views affirmed and if you come into an audience like this and just affirm their views, they'll feel good about themselves, they'll feel good about you, and everybody will leave happy. I don't think I would be doing you or the movement a very good service if that's all I did here today.

Here's some reality. We cannot be a majority governing conservative movement in this country, if we lose all of the northeast, nearly all of the Great Lake states, the entire west coast, increasing numbers of western states, increasing numbers of mid-Atlantic states, having a 10 to 15 point deficit with women, having a 2-to-1 disadvantage with people between the ages of 18 and 29, having a 3-to-1 disadvantage with people between the ages of 18 and 29, having a 3-to-1 disadvantage with Hispanics, getting almost zero support from African Americans, and on down the list.

The point isn't identity politics. The point is those are market measures of how we're doing, and the marketplace is saying we are losing market share. And so, if we're losing market share, you step back and say, “What can we do about that? How can we improve? How can we regain market share?” And the answer in my view is not to say to people who are currently Republicans, “We are going to throw you overboard.”

We do not have a big enough party in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the northeast, to say we are throwing you overboard. This has to be about growing the party with our conservative principles intact and steadfast, and I'll say more about that in just a moment. But the rhetoric that says we're going to have a party that is about retracting as opposed to growing is crazy talk. You can go get every conservative in the state of Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa or the northeast or most of the western states and get them all to vote for us, and you will get 38 to 41 percent of the electorate and lose every election.

So, this isn't about moderating to get independents. It's about getting Independents and Democrats to become conservatives. Now – amending those two things shouldn't be confused. There's some nuance to this. But you'll hear a lot of talk about, oh, you know – some of these people just want the party to be moderate. No, no, no. It's how do you take our tried and true conservative principles that are time tested, constitutionally based, we know our right, and be able to convince the voters and people in our time and our circumstances that they should become conservative? So, how do we do that?

Well, first of all, all the rhetoric will be we lost our way, and we did, obviously. When we look at the United States Congress – it is an embarrassment. This organization is called the Freedom Center and David Horowitz and I met at a Republican Jewish Coalition Dinner I think in this city some years ago, and I was inspired by the concept and the work of the Center in part because when you look at our values and principles – in the interest of time I won't go through it all, but let me just focus on one - the notion of freedom. Now, some people just lose sight of it and they say, oh, it's a quaint word - freedom. We are the greatest nation in the face of the earth, in part because we are the freest nation on the face of the earth. God didn't happen just to make us smarter than everybody else in the world. We happen to be great in part because we have the gift and the privilege of freedom.

So, these issues are values-based. And so when we talk about the national debt, it is not freedom and we are not protecting and advancing freedom when we handcuff our children and our grandchildren to wagon loads full of debt - $35,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States of America. We are choking in debt. We are swimming in debt. That's $10 trillion in debt, not including the entitlement programs. We cannot be free if we are a debtor nation. We cannot be free if our federal officials are worried about what the Chinese might do in terms of withholding and enabling our debt, if we don't bail out the banks.

And that's part of what's going on. Part of the reason that the federal government is so scared about the financial systems collapsing is because they're worried that the Chinese and others are going to stop investing and buying our debt, and if they do that, things will collapse. How did we get to this point in this country where we have the Chinese financial investments dictating or influencing our federal policy? That is not freedom. We are not free if we are in debt. The average American is $20,000 in debt in credit cards. We are not free if people who are disadvantaged cannot grab the keys to opportunity, because their school system is so bad that they don't graduate from high school, and even if they do they need remedial education and they don't have the education or the skills to access the economy of today and tomorrow, and they get marginalized into society as a ward of the state.

That is not freedom for them, and it's awful for us. It's bad economically. It's bad morally. It's bad socially. Freedom is about school choice. Freedom is about improving performance pay in schools. Freedom is about having the school system look more like an iPod than a 1940s industrial one-size-fits-all assembly line. Freedom isn't having the government take over the healthcare system, so your decisions are made by bureaucrats instead of between patients and doctors; freedom isn't having lunatics threaten the state of Israel and say they're going to wipe it out and tolerate that as some sort of a need to accommodate lunatics in foreign policy. We have lost our way.

Freedom starts with ending the culture of debt. This has been erased from our memory, but I think one of the things we should do is demand a constitutional requirement to balance the federal budget.

And I think that's what it's going to take. It doesn't matter whether the Republicans or the Democrats have run the Congress. The only difference is about how much faster they're going into debt. I mean, the only thing that's going to force this to change is a requirement that it change. The reason states balance their budgets is because we're constitutionally required to do it. Is it hard? Yes. Is it ugly? Yes. But if you believe we're going to continue to send politicians to Washington and that they're going to voluntarily balance the budget, please come and see my new real estate agency that I'd like to open for you. History defies that conclusion.

We have lost our way with spending, with corruption, with bailouts, all of the things that have been mentioned, all of the things that you'll hear. But that is not the only story. The rest of the story is that the country has changed. The country has changed economically. The country has changed demographically. The country, unfortunately, has changed culturally. The country has changed technologically. And so, the challenge and the opportunity for us is how do you take these time-tested principles and apply them to the emerging issues of our time in our circumstances? And again, I am not talking about changing them or diluting them or throwing them overboard. I'm talking about pushing the refresh button, so that the application and presentation of those ideas and values are done in a contemporary way that's relevant.

The good news is these two things can be harmonized. The way out of the wilderness is back to our principles, but applied in the future, applied in the present. We can harmonize and be both a conservative and modern movement – and I don't mean "moderate," I mean conservative and modern movement. You cannot be a majority governing party when 18- to 29-year-olds almost entirely abandon you. It might work for now, but it isn't going to work in 10 years, and I don't mean mildly abandon us. I mean run away from us.

And so, here are some thoughts.

My brothers and sisters are Joe the plumbers and Jane the plumbers. I grew up in a meat packing town in South Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1960's. They all went out of business about the same time, and the city went through just an economic cataclysm. Moms and dads up and down my block were unemployed and facing economic distress. My mom died when I was in 10th grade. My dad got laid off a few years later when I was in high school. I was the youngest of five kids. My brothers and sisters' life story, in a nutshell, is this:

My oldest brother started working in a grocery store when he was 15 or 16 years old. He retired a few years ago. He worked for nearly 50 years as a produce clerk for the United Food and Commercial Workers and for part of his career he was a union organizer. My other brother worked at a chemical plant, a refinery, for the United Chemical Workers of America for a chunk of his career and now is a municipal worker. My other sister is a one-on-one special education aide in a public school and works really hard with disabled children as part of a public employee union. And my older sister has worked as a secretary or administrative assistant for her whole career for the same company over 40 years.

And I'd have discussions with them – this was before I became a Republican governor from Minnesota, and I'd say, what about your politics? What do you believe? Do you think that your taxes, particularly in a place like Minnesota, are high enough? They would say, “Oh, yes, we should reduce taxes.”

What about schools? Do you think we should just plough more money into them, or do you think we should demand accountability and reform around results? They would say, “Oh, yes, that sounds good. Absolutely.”

What about healthcare? You want the government taking the whole thing over? You want your healthcare decisions run by a bureaucrat and have it run like the people who responded to Katrina? They would say, “No, I don't want that. No, I'd rather be in charge of my healthcare decisions.”

Well, what about your guns? They would say, “Well, we like to hunt and fish, especially in Minnesota. Don't mess with our guns.”

What about social issues like being pro-life and traditional marriage? They would say, “Oh, yes, we like that. We don't like all that liberal crazy stuff that we hear about.”

Well, then, I would ask, how come you're Democrats? They would say, “Well, Republicans aren't for the working person.”

Have you ever heard that one?

I was at a presentation at the Republican Governors Association where now we've got a majority of people saying that if you ask who's more in favor of income tax breaks for modest income and middle income people, guess which party wins? Who's more likely to deliver tax cuts for you or for middle income, modest income people? The answer now is the Democrats.

Do you think we've lost our way?

So, if I had to sum it out for you, in the eyes of Joe the Plumber, or Tim's brothers and sisters, that's our challenge and that's our opportunity. They are not opposed to us on our issue positions. They are not opposed to us on our values and principles. But we have failed to make them meaningful for them. We have failed to connect with them on a gut level and a credibility level. We have failed to educate. We have failed to inspire. But we can do this. I think if we just look at what's coming, the pendulum will swing back in a way that will give us another chance.

We are now in an unfortunate and sad era where big government, big units, and big business are coalescing to do things that everyday Americans are not going to like and are not going to benefit from, and you're seeing the beginnings of that now with bailout-one, bailout-two, and who knows how many bailouts from here. The Obama administration will likely continue this iron triangle of big government, big business, and big unions in ways that the country is going to be ill-served by. So the door will open once again for us and we should make sure we are effective and ready.

Some lessons we can learn from our last success. First of all, President Dwight David Eisenhower said that, "The care of freedom will not long be entrusted to the timid or the weak." This is no time to be timid or weak. We wish President-elect Obama well for the good of the country. We want to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope things go well. But as our differences emerge and remain, we need to be bold; we need to be clear; and we need to be effective. As we do that, we need to take a page out of the Reagan playbook. I sometimes am remiss to always having everybody hearken back to Ronald Reagan. If you're under 40, most people don't remember Ronald Reagan. I loved Ronald Reagan. I came of age with Ronald Reagan. In 1980, I passed out brochures as a College Republican. I was the Chair of the College Republicans a few years later. But I was passing out brochures as my first act of political activity and got spat on by hippies on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota. Reagan is one of my personal heroes. But we now have to take those lessons and apply them in our time.

How many of you ever saw Ronald Reagan act in a demeaning, angry, or spiteful way? Ever see that? The only time he betrayed any irritation was when he grabbed the microphone in the 1980 New Hampshire primary and said, "I paid for this microphone." Ronald Reagan was a hopeful, optimistic, positive, civil, decent, strong person. And do not confuse hopeful, optimistic, civil, and decent with weak. He was very strong. But he was a hopeful person. People want to follow hopeful leadership. They want to follow positive leadership. And we need to be a hopeful, optimistic, positive party.

And then, lastly, if you think about what we have in front of us, I'll give you one last story. Mary and I and our kids were going to Wisconsin some years ago. I shouldn't admit that as the governor of the State of Minnesota, but from a tourism standpoint – I hope you all vacation in Minnesota! It's great! – but we had our young children with us, now ages 15 and 12. As we’re driving back in our little Dodge Stratus and the kids are in the back and Mary and I are in the front, it's 100 degrees out. It's humid. And about an hour into the car trip, I mean, they are throwing juice boxes at each other and pulling each other's hair and elbowing each other in the ribs.

And pretty soon the tempers in the car are about matching the temperatures outside, and we pull over because things are a little tense in the family. And I'm pumping gas in my car at a gas station. I've got the doors open to the car and I'm kind of grinding my teeth, murmuring to myself about these misbehaving awful children that I have. And this guy's pumping gas next to me and he's looking at me and kind of looking at my car and the family, and I think he could sense there was some tension in our family. And our eyes met and he looks at me and he says, “Oh, I wish I had two kids.” I thought, “Oh, Pawlenty, you jerk. I mean, here you have these gifts from God, these cherubs, these wonderful children and family, and this poor sack, he doesn't have any of this.” And I turned to him, I said, “Well, I'm sorry, sir. You don't have kids?” He said, “No, I've got five kids. I wish I had two kids.”

Now, that is just a story, but it talks – it leaves us with this lesson. Let's be grateful also for what we have, not just angry and ungrateful for what we don't have. Our Creator, God, has given us the most free and prosperous nation in the history of the world. No people anyplace ever experienced more freedom and more liberty and, until recently, more prosperity than those of us fortunate enough to live in the United States of America in these times. Do we have challenges? Absolutely. Are there frustrations? Of course. Is there great work to do for the cause of freedom? As we say in Minnesota, “You betcha.” But we live in a great country. And in ways that are sometimes frustrating and sometimes mysterious, we figure things out, sometimes late. We don't always get ahead of the curve. But if you challenge this great country, it responds.

I believe we have an opportunity in this crisis to reemerge as a refreshed party returning to our roots and our values, but presenting them in a modern way, so that the 35 percent of the country that is currently conservative can grow, not by becoming more moderate, but by having Independents and Democrats who say, “I think I want to follow that group.” I'll give you just one example. When we talk about tuition for higher education, what do people worry about today? “How am I going to pay for my kids' college?” Mary and I worry about this. It's expensive. It's a lot of money. And so, every year we go to the legislature of the Congress and people say give the universities more money, so they can build more buildings, and maybe hold down tuition. And if you give us lots of money, tuition will only go up 6 percent and if you give us a little money we're going to triple tuition to 12 or 18 percent. And it gives you a migraine. The systems are out of control. Their cost structures are rising too fast, so fast it sounds like the car companies. And so, it's just a debate between the Republicans saying, “hold the tuition down a little,” and the Democrats saying, “hold it down a little more.”

The whole system needs to be reinvented. How do we do that in a modern way that's appealing to young people that uses our principles? Well, how about this? Why would you get in your car in Stillwater, Minnesota, and drive 45 minutes in rush hour, park your car in a remote parking lot of the University of Minnesota - let's say it's January and 10 below, walk 15 minutes across campus, take off your coat and your backpack, and sit down and be lectured by an assistant professor who may or may not be any good on Econ 101? Or in today's world, if you're anybody younger than us, and most of your life is done through electronic communication through test messaging, twittering, emailing, MySpace, FaceBook, all the things that's going on, would you rather just get up and pour yourself a cup of coffee or whenever it's convenient to you digitally dial into not a TV classroom live, but a digitally stored lecture from the best Econ 101 professor in the world online?

Here's the Republican principle. Our consumers, our customers through online learning, as a supplement, not a replacement, can get more variety, the best quality, access when it's convenient for them, cheaper, more efficient, and better than what we're currently offering. So instead of funding more buildings, we should be talking about how can we do less of that and more online learning? The University of North Carolina has 90 college degree programs online - 90. In 10 years, they're going to have more children graduating from their online courses with a degree than they do in their traditional program. Once you have the program up and running, do you know what the marginal cost is of adding one more student to the program? Zero.

So instead of having a debate about how much tuition is going to go up, Republicans could be leading the charge about how much the tuition is going to go down if you take these kinds of courses. Do you think college students might like that? Do you think their parents might like that? Do you think it's empowering for people to say that will make college more affordable and I'll be more likely to get a skill or an education that will allow me to access the economy, so I can have opportunity in America? And it's more choice, it's better quality, and more efficiency. Now, that's one small example of many, but that's the kind of thinking that we have to bring to the debate. Otherwise, we can't win. We're never going to outspend the Democrats. If the measure of our commitment to say education is they'll spend X and we'll spend Y, and X is bigger than Y, that's not much of a debate. We have to be about transforming these systems along the lines that I've just described.

You've been kind to listen so long and so well. Mary and I are delighted to be here. And to David Horowitz, thank you for leading this institution. I can think of no grander cause and nothing more important than saying, we are going to protect freedom by educating, by inspiring, by raising awareness, and by motivating with new ideas.

Thank you very much.

David Horowitz:
The governor has agreed to take a few questions, so fire away.

Tom Snow:
It was so exciting to hear you in your own words say we need to market our product better. And I loved it when you used the word "modern" to take the old fashioned tried and true principles and re-present them in a modern way. I hope this is a discussion that's really happening within all of your conferences and people like you. Do you feel that that is a sentiment that's alive?

Governor Pawlenty: Yes. But I'll give you one tactical advantage – or example and one strategic observation. On the tactical level, the Democrats are in an entirely different universe when it comes to the use of technology for campaigning and marketing messages. They are 15 years ahead of us. And part of it is because Obama had a lot of money. And by the way, if we don't do something to catch up on the money side, a lot of this is going to continue to put us at a disadvantage. But if you examine critically the capabilities of Republicans versus Democrats on the Internet and web-based marketing, web-based campaigning, it's not even close. We're not even in the same league. And if you want to engage 18- to 29-year-olds, the primary way you're going to do it is to make sure you have a welcoming, modern, robust web-based platform that they feel engaged and welcomed by and that you have available to them that's welcoming and engaging, which takes some money and some infrastructure.

On a more strategic level, I'll just say it to you bluntly. Not every face and voice of the Republican Party can be middle-aged guys. You've got to make sure you have points at both, but a little strategic thought around let's get more women involved, let's recruit more candidates from the Hispanic community, let's get younger people involved, and on down the list. And part of that means some of us who are getting up there have got to get out of the way. Not David, of course. But if you're at an event, a convention, a party thing, instead of the same old people doing the same old things for the last 30 years, life as the Good Book teaches us in Timothy is a relay race; it's not a sprint. Part of the deal is developing the next generation of leaders and passing the baton successfully to them.

And so, we love the Reagan era, but in terms of faces and voices, it's time to turn the page and get some fresh blood from fresh legs on the field, as they say in sports.

Unidentified Audience Member:
Could you comment on how you reduce the deficit by $3 billion without raising taxes?

Governor Pawlenty: Painfully. Painfully. Yes, we had a $4.5 billion budget deficit in Minnesota in 2003, and unless you're in an energy state most of the states are going to be back in the soup here again next year, including Minnesota. But it was 15 percent of the budget. As a percent of the budget, we think the largest deficit in the country at the time and subsequently. We did it through a combination of things. We cut spending pretty substantially. We used some reserve funds, but the bulk of it was on the spending side. There were a couple in specialty funds, and I said this when I was running, user fees. But these are fishing fees and park entrance fees and things like that, but they were existing fees. But that as only 5 percent of the solution, so it wasn't much. That's basically it. And it was hard. But I said to the people of Minnesota, and I'm going to say it again as we go into this recession people have got to tighten their belts. If you go to average American families, they've got to live within their means, the government's got to live within its means. If you're going to have the economy growing not at all or 1 percent or 2 percent or maybe even shrinking, the government has to reflect. I mean, you can't have government growing two or three or four times faster than the private economy. The math doesn't work. It gets back to the culture of debt that we started the conversation at. And people in Minnesota, even Minnesota, and this is not a conservative place, understood that and they bought it and they still do.

John Walstetter: Just a suggestion of a way that the Republican governors can work with the new administration, there's one infrastructure idea that's not a bridge to nowhere, but electricity everywhere. It is a 21,000-mile electricity backbone which will do for electricity what fiber optics did for communication, because right now we have an electric grid where half the capacity is unused because you can't shift between peak and normal loads between – there are three parts to it. East-West of the Rockies and in Texas. They're not linked. If you link those islands, it takes an upfront 75 billion, but that pays for itself, because electric costs will come down substantially. You can also get the environmentalists, because they can use the geothermal and wind power farms, put them in remote areas, and you can ship it be long distance. And you can use power much more efficiently. It's a proposal by Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute.
It's a win-win. And you'll also have electricity – a sufficient amount to charge plug-in hybrids overnight, and therefore import less oil.

But Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute has written a paper on it and Forbes put an article on it. It's also about one-fifth the cost of what Al Gore wants to do. It makes a lot more sense.

Tim Pawlenty:
Thank you. I'll look into it. If I could just say a word on energy, and again, this may ruffle some feathers, but I'm going to say it anyhow. “Drill, Baby, drill,” by itself is not a complete energy plan. It's an important piece. We do need to drill, Baby, drill, but that is not a full, complete, or comprehensive or thoughtful energy plan. Another piece of it amongst many others would be we actually have to have transmission to transmit energy all across the country in a reliable, modern, efficient way. We're 20 years behind in transmission capability. That needs to change. We're working on it in Minnesota and I know most other states are as well. It's a huge issue. It's great to have wind turbine somewhere, but if you can't transmit the energy it doesn't do you much good. So, that's a great point.

This is another example of conservatives being slow to see emerging issues and lagging behind and trying to play catch-up. All these alternative energy sources - wind, solar, biomass, biogas, geothermal, nuclear – though it's not renew – needed, clean coal, and the like, we need to do the ones that are economically rational. Not crazy ones, not the ones that don't make any sense. But instead of trying to play catch-up, we should've been the ones saying, how can we get those going using conservative principles? How do you initiate a renewable energy initiative using Republican or conservative principles? Some of them have merit, some of them have less merit, some of them have no merit. But to simply say as a party or a movement we're doing none of them and our sole mantra is “drill, Baby, drill.” That's incomplete. We can do better than that as conservatives.

Unidentified Audience Member:
Let's get more practical. Before we speak about the future, you have a recount going on in your state with Norm Coleman and Al Franken. And there's a question about ACORN being involved with your Secretary of State, and the numbers are getting narrower and narrower. With the filibuster hanging in the distance, what can you enlighten us about what's going on there?

Governor Pawlenty: Well, I can tell you that what we know – and it's not like Donald Rumsfeld, I can't tell you what we don't know. But here's what we know. Norm Coleman originally on election night had a 700-plus ballot lead. That lead has shrunken to 206 votes. In Minnesota, there is an adjustment period before the recount begins. So the adjustment period is always clerical errors, double checking, things like that. As an example of the adjustment period when Norm won the election the first time in 2002, between the time that he won the election on election night and they certified the results at the canvassing board two weeks later, Norm actually picked up 7,000 more votes. Of course, the Democrats say that he didn't complain about that and now you're complaining about the shrinkage the other way.

We know that some odd patterns have developed in the form of these pre-recount adjustments have overwhelmingly favored Franken. That makes us concerned. But the candid truth is there is no current evidence of fraud or wrongdoing. So, while we are concerned, you cannot allege fraud or wrongdoing unless you can back it up. We should be careful about making allegations like that. We've got 4,100 precincts in Minnesota. They're staffed with volunteers. They work hard. Minnesota has a reputation, a sterling reputation, for fair and clean, open and accurate elections. And as we are gathered here this morning there is no actual evidence of wrongdoing or fraud. So what happens next is a canvassing board convenes. It's a five-person canvassing board, one of whom is the Minnesota Secretary of State. Four of the others are judges. The judges that have been selected are two that I appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, as well as one other than I know well. I didn't appoint her, but she's a fair minded person and isn't going to be a partisan in this. And the other one I don't know, so I can't speak to him.

So, it doesn't appear at the moment that there's any sort of known fraud, but it's something that we'll keep an eye on.

Unidentified Audience Member: My wife is from St. Paul, and we get to Stillwater on a regular basis to visit the family. And the young lady just before me asked the question that I was interested in and was concerned about: that you make every effort to make sure there isn't any voter fraud in the outcome of that election.

Governor Pawlenty: As Minnesota's governor, I don't have any legal authority in the recount. The law gives it all to the Secretary of State. I get asked a lot, “Governor, what are you going to do?” And I've had my lawyers look at this at length and the answer is I don't have a legal platform or role in the recount at all. So I lend voice to it, but that's all I can do.

Unidentified Audience Member: I went to the University of Minnesota. I'm very proud that you're the governor of Minnesota. You really represent us well. I just want to point out something to this group particularly, and that is that your idea about the online education and how we can reduce tuition. I want to say to everybody is that David Horowitz is the man who's gone out on almost a one-man campaign to clean out our colleges and universities of these subversives and these really dangerous people who are like the pod people taking over our children's minds.

And here we are asking ourselves how to get together enough money to send our kids to college. Why do you want to send your kids to college when they're going to come out Marxists and atheists?

Governor Pawlenty: Well, you know this because of your either personal use or your kids or your grandkids. Look at their lives. I mean, everything is digital. It's extraordinary. And if you really think 20 years from now students are going to be sitting in a lecture hall listening to some professor blather on with a white board and a dry erase marker and that's going to be the delivery of service vehicle for higher education – and maybe parts of K-12 – I think we're kidding ourselves. This change is coming. The only question is are we going to lead it, or is it just going to arrive? And it's already happening to some extent, anyhow.

And if I could just quickly on healthcare, which is a mind-numbingly complex topic, if I said to you, “Today on your way home go buy a TV on me. Don't worry about the size, the quality, the price. I'll pay for it.” How many of you would show back up in your hotel tonight with a 12-inch black and white? Not many. That's our healthcare system. All of us get to go to doctor, clinic, hospital provider, consume goods and services, for the most part we don't know what any of it costs, whether it's any good or not, and a third party, namely the government, an HMO or an insurance company, manages and pays for the relationship. In what other walk of life does that work? And then, we wonder why the healthcare is system broken? It's fundamentally out of alignment about everything we know about markets and everything we know about human behavior.

In Minnesota in the State Employee Pool, we said this. We now know who the really good doctors, hospitals, and clinics are, including the Mayo Clinic, at least as to chronic disease, which is where most of the money is - cancer, diabetes, obesity, end of life issues, and heart disease. And where you go get your care matters a lot. I mean, not 1 percent or 2 percent, but 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent as to your health outcomes. And guess what? The price varies a lot.

So, we said to our state employees in cooperation with the unions, because it was breaking their back, too, we've got to fix this. And now we say to them, you can go anywhere you want, wide open choice. But if you go somewhere that's really high quality and efficient you'll pay less, and if you go somewhere that's poor quality and inefficient you'll pay more, guess where they go? And guess what's happened to our premium increases in the Minnesota employee group? Two years ago, we had a zero percent increase. You ever heard of that in these markets? And these aren't the healthiest people in the state either. And then, this year, it was a 3 percent increase. You heard of 3 percent health insurance premiums? It's because we have begun the process of giving consumers information and then giving them financial incentives or consequences to make smart decisions. We've begun to make the thing look more like human nature and markets rather than a mindless bureaucracy.

So, those are the kinds of things we can do and should do and talk about as Republicans on bread and butter issues like healthcare.

Unidentified Audience Member: I have two points. Both of which you talked about a little earlier – the fairness doctrine. If we're going to have a consideration of the fairness on the radio, I sincerely believe we need a consideration of the fairness of government sponsored education. Point being universities which show 95 percent registered liberal voters and yet the federal government is still giving them money. And on the other side of it, a lot of these universities are making contributions to people who are running for office. It's just a thought to include other sources receiving money from the government to have fairness across the board.

Governor Pawlenty: That's a good point. I understand. Yes. Can I just say this about universities and the media and we complain endlessly about it and we'll be complaining 20 years about it from now. I don't endorse this book, but it's called The Big Sort or something like that. And we sort our lives around certain patterns to be in environments and with people that affirm us. And so, when's the last time that you met a hard charging, type A entrepreneurial, market-oriented, person who said, “You know, I think I want to go be an assistant professor over at the university,” or, “I'd really like to be a mid-level manager over at the federal government”?

It attracts a certain type of person - not always, but in general. And so, there's a reason that you're not a professor at the university. There may be multiple reasons you're not a professor at the university. But part of it is, if conservatives want to be in the media, we can hold them accountable, but we also have to acknowledge we don't participate and the world's run by those who show up. We've vacated the playing field. I mean, how many conservatives go hang out as professors. So we have to change that as part of kind of developing our bench strength and systematic strategy, or at the very least, we have to hold them accountable through transparency, like David does day in and day out, or through funding decisions and shining the spotlight on them. But we shouldn't complain that there are no conservatives in the media, because by and large, we have vacated the playing field.

Unidentified Audience Member: Yes, individually as contributors to universities, I think a lot of people are holding back money and saying, why? We do that ourselves as alumni. We tell them why we're not sending them money anymore. But my second point was the idea of a balanced budget comes up over and over. We need leadership somewhere to put out to the American people state by state a vote that our federal system needs to have a balanced budget. And I'm wondering if we don’t have it because Republicans, as well as Democrats, want to overspend.

I will bet that the American people would vote if given a chance to require, because everybody's spending money. Nobody seems to stop.

Governor Pawlenty: I agree. If you talk about the Contract for America, which is a worn out phrase, but whatever it would be called going forward, one of the planks should be just that. And if you amend the U.S. Constitution, part of the process is a state by state voting process. And I believe strongly that the American people would support this – that this would resonate as one plank in an action plan. We are going to be the party that leads the charge for a balanced budget amendment.

We're out of time, so I'll just say, I completely agree with you. But people who go to Washington get rewarded for saying yes. And unless and until we can change the culture to reward them for saying no, then we'd better get a mechanism in place that enforces no. That's what I believe. And I think history proves me right.

Thank you very much for listening.

Tim Pawlenty is the 39th governor of Minnesota.


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