Tim Pawlenty, lagging in the national polls, has recently begun taking shots at his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann, saying her “record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent.” He has also started pointedly stressing the need for a presidential candidate to have prior executive experience.
Today Bachmann fired back. “Executive experience is not an asset if it simply means bigger and more intrusive government,” she said in a statement. “Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, ‘The era of small government is over… the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.’ That’s the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan,” Bachmann added.
Bachmann criticized Pawlenty for “praising” the individual health care mandate and TARP, supporting cap-and-trade, and “leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota.”
“Actions speak louder than words,” Bachmann said, pointing that she had “fought against irresponsible spending … [and] cap-and-trade,” and on TARP, had “worked tirelessly against it and voted against it.”
Nick Ayers, Pawlenty’s campaign manager, acknowledged the Bachmann statement in a tweet. “Glad an opponent engaged today,” he wrote. “Even better…she used a bunch of weak/incorrect oppo research. We’ll be back in IA to address tomorrow.”
In response to “The era of small government is over” quote, the Pawlenty campaign has previously pointed out this clarification issued by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
An article on Page 1B Saturday quoted Gov. Tim Pawlenty saying “The era of small government is over,” a comment he made in reference to a point made in a 2004 column by New York Times columnist David Brooks. Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Monday that Pawlenty’s record shows he is not a supporter of “big government” and that he was “simply talking about the need for government to be more effective and active.”
Pawlenty defended his comments about the individual mandate to National Review Online in May, saying that he had “rejected my own [health care] commission’s recommendations because … they had an individual mandate in it.”
This is not the first time Bachmann and Pawlenty have sparred. In 2005, Bachmann, then a Minnesota state senator, led the opposition to a cigarette tax hike then-Gov. Pawlenty had proposed as a way to solve a budget crisis that had lead to a government shutdown.
UPDATE: The two campaigns continued the war of words throughout the day. Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant issued this statement:
Congresswoman Bachmann has her facts wrong. The truth is that there is very little difference between Governor Pawlenty and Congresswoman Bachmann on their issue positions. The difference is that when Governor Pawlenty was scoring conservative victories to cut spending, pass market-based health care reform, and transform a supreme court from liberal to conservative, and was elected twice in a very blue state, Congresswoman Bachmann was giving speeches and offering failed amendments, all while struggling mightily to hold onto the most Republican house seat in the state. In order to beat Barack Obama, Republicans need someone who can unite conservatives with a proven track record of winning conservative results and tough elections — that’s Governor Pawlenty. The Governor looks forward to discussing these issues eye-to-eye with voters in town halls across Iowa next week.
In response to Conant’s statement, Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart sent out this statement:
Governor Pawlenty would have us believe that there is ‘very little difference’ between his positions and those of Michele Bachmann.
But in fact, there is very little difference between Governor Pawlenty’s past positions and Barack Obama’s positions on several critical issues facing Americans. On issues such as unconstitutional healthcare mandates, climate change regulations, and Wall Street bailouts, there’s very little daylight, indeed, between Governor Pawlenty’s record and the Obama administration’s policies.
And of course, President Obama would surely applaud Governor Pawlenty’s 2006 statement that the ‘era of small government is over,’ and that the government will have to be ‘more proactive and more aggressive.’
Governor Pawlenty has changed his positions in recent years, but he can’t run from his big government record as governor of Minnesota that left the state’s budget in a multi-billion dollar mess. That’s not executive experience we need.
As Michele Bachmann said earlier today, she ‘has a lifetime record of success and action in the real world. Real-world actions speak louder than his words as a career politician.’ And so the more Republican voters examine Michele Bachmann’s record and Governor Pawlenty’s record, the more they will see that there is a world of difference between the two.