- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is still unsure about running as a Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but he clearly has decided his early strategy will exclude bashing Sen. John McCain and other potential hopefuls.

“I’ve known John McCain for 20 years,” he said Tuesday on The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “He has served our country as a person in the military, a prisoner of war. He’s a patriot. He’s fought hard for this country in the Senate… . The bottom line is he has served this nation with incredible valor and courage.”

Such a position distances Mr. Pawlenty, 49, from many of the Republican Party’s most powerful factions — conservatives, “tea party” activists and media personalities such as Fox TV host Glenn Beck and talk-radio personality Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Pawlenty, who has endorsed Mr. Cain in his re-election bid in Arizona, also refrained from criticizing potential GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, who as Massachusetts governor enacted health-care reform like the one President Obama signed into law last week.

“We should just focus on what works,” he said. “If you look at the Massachusetts experience, clearly they expanded access [to health care]. But I think even the supporters of the program would acknowledge they didn’t control costs.”

Mr. Pawlenty said the party needs to embrace the varying points of view to become a “majority, governing coalition.”

“It’s not going to be soloist for a while,” he said. “It’s going to be a chorus or a choir, and that’s a good thing… . All of these pieces are important. No one piece will carry the day by itself.”

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