Tim Pawlenty threw another punch in the escalating Minnesota Melee between the ex-governor and Michele Bachmann, telling a crowd on Monday that his rival often makes “inaccurate” statements and has failed to win her policy fights with Democrats.
Pawlenty has gone after Bachmann’s record and, at one point, health for weeks, but today was the first time Bachmann actually returned the favor with a lengthy attack on Pawlenty’s tenure as governor in which she compared him to President Obama. Given that Bachmann is leading multiple polls of Iowa while Pawlenty is struggling to gain traction, Pawlenty has little to lose from baiting the Congresswoman into a high-profile duel.
Per Politico, Pawlenty contrasted his responsibilities as governor with Bachmann’s reputation as a tough-talking, little-action legislator on issues ranging from health care to abortion. He also brought up Bachmann’s oft-noted habit of fumbling facts, from historical events to dubious rumors.
Pawlenty’s comments, in full, below the fold:
“Congresswoman Bachmann and I and others are going to be in competition for the support of Iowa. And people are going to want to know our records and the like. And so as I said before, I know Congresswoman Bachmann and I respect her. I’ve campaigned for her in the past.
“But as to her comments over the weekend, let me just make a few quick observations. One is, she has a record for saying things that are off the mark and this is another example of that in terms of the accuracy of those comments.
“Two is …There is a big difference between talking about things and getting them done. And so she and I have fought for many of the same issues, we have fought the same fights. But she hasn’t won. I have. And so, there’s one thing to be against ObamaCare and give a speech against it, it’s another thing to lead the charge in Minnesota to opt out of it and take healthcare in a different and better way.
“It’s one thing to talk about government spending and debt and deficit and another thing to be an executive and actually cut spending in real terms for the first time in 150 years. It’s one thing to talk about being pro-life, and she and I are both very pro-life.
“But I actually as an executive signed into law and proposed legislation that moves pro-life movement and results forward. And I wasn’t just talking about appointing Supreme Court justices who are conservative, I did it.
“So again, I respect Congresswoman Bachmann, but her comments I think were consistent with her pattern of being inaccurate and off the mark, and number two, there’s a big difference between talking and getting stuff done. I get stuff done.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.