CORALVILLE — Tim Pawlenty’s “Road to Results” tour of Iowa got off to a slow start when he got caught in a traffic delay caused by a construction project along Interstate 380.
Just as well, according to Democratic critics, who claimed in a prebuttal to the former Minnesota governor’s tour Monday that Pawlenty as president would drive the nation’s economy into the ditch.
“As governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty drove the economy up there into a ditch,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky of Coralville told reporters Monday. “The reality is the road to results for Tim Pawlenty includes the $6.2 billion pothole he left his successor to fill and ends in higher tuition rates and tax increases for 90 percent of Minnesotans.”
“There’s nothing in record to indicate his kind of results would be good for the country. They certainly weren’t good for Minnesotans,” said Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin.
Pawlenty dismissed the criticism, telling about 60 people at the Coralville Public Library that Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and one of the fastest job-growth rates.
As far as the state government shutdown entering its third week in Minnesota, Pawlenty pointed out he balanced the budget every year for eight years. The fight is over the next budget, a budget that assumes a 20 percent spending increase, he said.
“In fact, the last budget for which I was responsible ended June 30, and it ended with surplus,” he said.
Those are the results he thinks Iowa Republicans want in their nominee and American voters will want in their next president. What sets him apart from his rivals, Pawlenty said, is that record of results.
“I’m running for president of the United States because I’ve got the record, I’ve got the values, I’ve got the experience, and I’ve got the abilities to lead America to a better, more positive place,” Pawlenty said.
That’s a record that Iowa social and fiscal conservatives can agree on, a record that can unite the party, according to Joe Kippley, a University of Iowa graduate student who introduced Pawlenty and his wife, Mary.
“The thing that I bring to this race and I hope you will consider is not just the ability to give a speech … but to look you in the eye and tell you, ‘I did all these things in one of the most difficult political environments in the United States of America,’” Pawlenty said.
That sounded good to Harold Weilbrenner of Iowa City, who came not knowing much about Pawlenty.
“I basically like what he had to say,” Weilbrenner said. “He’s been an executive. He has a track record.”
Still, Weilbrenner wasn’t ready to commit, but Pawlenty had moved the needle.
“I was totally undecided when I came in,” he said, “but now I’m a lot closer (to a decision) than before.”