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Economic Punishment Vote May Determine 2012 Campaign

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By Tom Risen, NNPA Correspondent –

Frustration with the economy is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s main explanation for Republican losses in 2008 and his prediction for 2012, as he considers a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Pawlenty is currently on a multi-city media blitz for his book “Courage To Stand”, which outlines the loss of “strong-back jobs” that do not require college degrees as key to voter decision making in 2012, during his appearance in the nation’s capital at the National Press Club (NPC).

Pawlenty had been considered as the running mate for Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain in 2008. However, he does not believe the result would have been different had he been chosen instead of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. “After the economy cratered in 2008, I think whoever the running mate had been was going to lose,” Pawlenty told the crowd. “And, I think we’re going to see more of that this time around.”

Pawlenty appealed to “restore American common sense” by not increasing government spending, which he feared could increase taxes and damage businesses. In his book, Pawlenty contended an increase in the “socialist” spending mentality under President Barak Obama’s Administration -- expansion of federal programs such as health care --could lead America to the same high unemployment and budget troubles now faced by European economies. “Just because we followed Greece into democracy doesn’t mean we need to follow them into bankruptcy,” said Pawlenty. “As government pushes in, industrialism, responsibility, accountability, family, neighborhood, and so on, get pushed out.”

Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Il) is also expecting more “punishment politics” in response to the economy in 2012. Davis, who is running for Chicago mayor, considers himself “a fiscal conservative” and attributed the Democratic Party’s recent loss of the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama to Republican Mark Kirk as a prime example of such backlash against incumbent Democrats. Davis cited unemployment as the defining complaint among Black voters and expressed understanding of why Republicans are wary of budget increases.

“Although I agree that in reality meeting people’s needs doesn’t mean wasting resources, a lot of the government spending on education and welfare that I may call ‘investments’ others would call ‘giveaways,’” Davis said. “There are some issues in Black life that relate to moral standards, but the bigger issues seem to be “get a job” ensure there are opportunities to get to college or experience a certain economic state of well-being with the rest of society.”

NPC President Alan Bjerga called the timing of Pawlenty’s book tour, immediately following his term as governor, “a path to presidential nomination.” President Obama also released a book prior to his bid for the presidency as did Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan – all of whom announced their candidacies at the NPC.

In a hint of what might come with a Pawlenty presidential campaign, the Minnesota Republican said the conservative message against government spending coming from political movements, like the Tea Party, could provide a solid message for the conservative movement “for years to come.”

While Pawlenty placed great importance on education and gave high praise in his speech to Michelle Rhee for “speaking truth to power” as chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools, he also cautioned against increasing federal role in education, welfare, and public housing. Pawlenty declined to detail how he would appeal to both spendthrift Republicans and Black voters.

“I don’t want to focus on identity politics,” Pawlenty said. “I want to look at every aspect of the different social programs and do what’s right for the country.”

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