Gov. Tim Pawlenty told about 400 Republican activists in Little Rock, Ark. that the Republican Party needs to improve by focusing on its core values of limited government and low taxes.
Pawlenty spoke at a fundraiser for the Arkansas Republican Party Friday evening, the second out-of-state trip he's made since he announced he wasn't running for a third term on June 2. Pawlenty has side-stepped questions on whether he intends to run for president in 2012, but said he's willing to take his message across the country.
"I feel strongly about the need to improve the Republican Party in Minnesota and across the country and I'm going to accept invitations to go out and share my ideas and my ideas to try to move the party forward and this is one of those efforts."
Pawlenty said his visit to Arkansas had nothing to to with his future political plans and offered praise to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is also believed to be considering a run for the White House. The DFL Party released a statement saying Pawlenty is putting his national ambitions ahead of the state.
Pawlenty told reporters in Arkansas that he doesn't think that South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's admitted affair should be viewed in political terms. Before his speech, he told reporters that Sanford's affair isn't limited to political parties. He also declined to say whether Sanford should resign.
"The situation is going to have to settle for a while. That's a decision for the people of South Carolina and for Gov. Sanford to make," he said. "I don't think somebody from the outside should be looking at that. Plus I'm not sure all of the information and facts about all of what happened is even known yet."