The libertarian Cato Institute released a report card Thursday, which grades governors on their fiscal records. Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty is one of only four to receive an "A."
The timing could hardly be any better for Pawlenty , who is widely considered to be preparing a 2012 presidential run, as he was in New Hampshire Thursday, home of the First-in-the-Nation presidential primary.
The Cato institute describes itself as "dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace." The three governors joining Pawlenty on the "A" list are South Carolina's Mark Sanford (R), Joe Manchin of West Virginia (D) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R).
The report notes, "Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has proposed pro-growth reforms, opposed tax increases, and been a relatively frugal budgeter. He has proposed cutting the state's high and uncompetitive corporate franchise tax, and he has repeatedly vetoed giant tax-hike packages passed by the legislature, including increases to gasoline taxes, beer taxes, wine taxes, and income taxes. Under Pawlenty, state general fund spending rose modestly between FY03 and FY08 and has decreased substantially since then. The governor has also proposed a state constitutional amendment to limit general fund spending."Pawlenty is in New Hampshire Thursday for two fundraisers with Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen and another with GOP congressional candidate Frank Guinta.
The Minnesota Governor and presidential hopeful has also been following the cardinal rule in New Hampshire; visit early and often. Pawlenty has dropped in on the Granite State four times since starting up his political action committee about a year ago.
Pawlenty is also starting the critical process of organizing in New Hampshire, with a handful of paid staffers already on the ground, including New Hampshire senior advisor Sarah Crawford, who played the same role for John McCain's campaign in 2008 . McCain went on to win the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, a comeback victory that sparked his successful run for the GOP presidential nomination.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.