Gov. Tim Pawlenty addressed the Manchester Republican Committee's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on Thursday night in New Hampshire, sounding most of the same themes he hit during a trip to the "granite state" late last year.
In introducing Pawlenty to a room filled with a couple hundred Republicans, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas relayed his take away from an earlier meeting with Pawlenty about presidential politics.
"Pawlenty makes no secrets about it, he's testing the presidential waters," Gatsas said. "During our conversation it was clear that he was thinking about this because he loves his country and the he believes in a blueprint that our founding fathers laid out. And that's very refreshing."
Like his previous visit to New Hampshire in December, Pawlenty received a warm welcome in Manchester. In his previous speech, Pawlenty talked a lot about what he calls out-of-control government spending. He kept it up Thursday night, saying U.S. government spends much more than it takes in and that all of the debt poses a serious threat to the nation's future.
"Now we, a United States Federal Government who is so far in debt, that has put this nation so at risk, has put this nation at such peril, that they not only endanger our economic security and our prosperity, but it's gotten so bad that they are now putting at risk our national security over these issues," Pawlenty said.
“I noted he's done a lot to regain fiscal responsibility in a state that's almost radical in terms of its liberalism.”Frank Williams
Pawlenty cited the health care bill as the latest example of the federal government overreaching and over spending. As he almost always does when making political speeches outside of Minnesota, Pawlenty talked about his record of cutting spending back home.
Frank Williams of Amherst New Hampshire left feeling upbeat about Pawlenty's presidential prospects saying he would work on a Pawlenty campaign. Williams also bought Pawlenty's argument that's he's a got a strong track record.
"I noted he's done a lot to regain fiscal responsibility in a state that's almost radical in terms of its liberalism," Williams said.
It was the first time Mark Warden of suburban Manchester had heard Pawlenty speak. Warden too liked the emphasis on fiscal responsibility. He's convinced Pawlenty is running for president and he was impressed with what he saw as Pawlenty's relatively positive message.
"I think he summed it up pretty well about the opportunities the Republican Party has right now," Warden said. "Overall, it was optimistic. That's nice to hear."
Prior to his remarks at the Manchester GOP dinner, Pawlenty stopped by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of St. Anselm College. There, Pawlenty met with some students, including two Minnesotans. He also did a couple of news interviews and held a few private meetings with area Republicans.
At the state capitol in St. Paul, DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said Pawlenty's time would be better spent meeting lawmakers in Minnesota not in New Hampshire.
"He has every right to travel, but we do better work when he's around," Sertich said. "We're really trying to get the budget wrapped up here and we're working hard on that and it's ultimately going to need his signature so we need him to be as engaged as possible."
On the way out of his Manchester event, headed for a charter-jet flight home to Minnesota, Pawlenty dismissed criticism about his travels and noted his budget has been on the table for weeks.
"It is just folks who haven't gotten their work done trying to look for somebody else to blame," Pawlenty said. "The fact of the matter is my recommendations, my work has been done, and it's been done for weeks and months."
As for talk about a presidential campaign, Pawlenty characterized his latest New Hampshire visit as nothing more than part of is broader effort through the country to help Republicans going into the 2010 mid-term elections.