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CORAL GABLES — Deep in senior-rich Florida, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty called Tuesday for fundamental changes in Social Security and other entitlement programs he said are not sustainable in their current form

Mr. Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor positioning himself as the GOP race’s blunt talker, said in a Facebook town hall meeting and a session with reporters that if elected he would gradually raise the Social Security retirement age and phase out cost-of-living increases for wealthier recipients. Current retirees and those close to retirement would be unaffected, he said.

“We’re here to look them in the eye, and look young people in the eye, and tell them what needs to be done,” he said. “These are reasonable things that can be done, but we need to tell the truth about it.”

Mr. Pawlenty officially entered the race Monday and assured supporters in Des Moines, Iowa, that he would tell hard truths that President Obama would not. One is his opposition to ethanol subsidies, not a popular stand in corn-dependent Iowa. His proposals for overhauling entitlement programs likely will not be popular in a retiree-heavy state such as Florida.

GOP

Daniels will campaign from the sidelines in 2012

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he will continue promoting fiscal conservatism and can influence the 2012 presidential debate from the sidelines now that he’s decided not to run himself.

Mr. Daniels, in his first public appearance since announcing last weekend that he wouldn’t seek the Republican nomination, said he’ll try to keep the campaign’s focus on fiscal conservatism through speaking engagements and promoting the book he is writing. He urged voters to focus on the spending issues that prompted him to consider a run and not on his decision.

“What I decided means very little. What happens to me means nothing,” Mr. Daniels said. “What America decides and what happens to the nation in the next few years means everything.”

Mr. Daniels said speculation that he could be a candidate for vice president is “far-fetched.” He says he hasn’t given any thought to a cabinet job if Republicans win back the White House or what he’ll do after his term as governor ends in January 2013.

WHITE HOUSE

President signs wrong year at Westminster Abbey

Well, it was a good year for him.

President Obama mistakenly signed the year “2008” instead of “2011” in the Westminster Abbey guest book Tuesday.

“It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice,” Mr. Obama wrote, signing his name and listing the date as “24 May 2008,” an AP photo shows.

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