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Pawlenty Woos Christian Conservatives


Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty speaks during the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington on June 3, 2011.(Chet Susslin)

Addressing a gathering of Christian conservatives Friday evening in Washington, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty delivered a relatively subdued address in which he continued to cast himself as candidate willing to tell voters what they don't want to hear, and sought to contrast himself with his Republican rivals as well as President Obama.

"If we are going to restore America's promise, we need to have a president that keeps his or her promises to America, and that's not Barack Obama," Pawlenty told the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington.

Pawlenty opened with an economic argument, citing high gas prices and the perils of the nation's debt level to launch into a blistering criticism of the president.

"President Obama's fluffy rhetoric doesn't fill up our gas tanks with gas, and it doesn't pay our mortgages," the former two-term governor said.

He hit on themes that resonate with social conservatives as well, emphasizing that "traditional marriage matters" and citing the need "to stand as a conservative movement to protect life."

Pawlenty, who officially launched his presidential campaign last week in Iowa - a state many observers regard as critical to his overall success as a candidate -- made news there when he discussed the necessity of eventually phasing out ethanol subsides. From there, he went to Florida, where he discussed social security and other entitlements. He made a point of underscoring both of those events in his address Friday.

"When I started my campaign, I went to the all-important state of Iowa, and said even for people in Iowa, there are some real truths we are going to have to tell," he said.

Some of Pawlenty's best-received lines came during the portion of his speech in which he discussed foreign policy and national security. "We need a president who stands shoulder to shoulder with our great friend Israel," he said to loud applause.

Pawlenty rounded out his argument by trying to draw a contrast from the rest of the GOP field by pointing to his record as governor, though he did not mention any of his opponents by name.

"The best sermons aren't preached they're lived," Pawlenty said, later adding "I hope you'll also ask the question, who's actually done it and not just talked about it."


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