Pawlenty Says "Chicken" President "Swung and Whiffed" at State of the Union

Former Minnesota governor and potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is known as a quintessential "nice guy" - maybe even too nice, some say, to make a successful bid for the Oval Office. But Pawlenty on Monday morning used a few...fowl...words while reviewing President Obama's State of the Union address.

"He's got all this soaring rhetoric, but the fact of the matter is, he's chicken to address the real issues," Pawlenty said of the president, asserting that Obama should have counted overhauling social security among his plans to reduce the deficit. "He swung and whiffed at one of the biggest challenges facing the country. He didn't even address entitlement reform. I thought the State of the Union, in that regard, was abysmal."

Pawlenty suggested indexing the retirement age and means-testing, or determining whether recipients are eligible, for social security's cost of living adjustment as ways to mitigate the program's widely predicted collapse. "Most Americans...understand we've got a problem. Those are reasonable solutions. You could rally people to that cause, but he didn't even tee it up. He won't even address it," he told Fox & Friends.

As for his "nice guy" persona, Pawlenty says, "Don't confuse being nice with being weak. Ronald Reagan was a great example of that. You can be hopeful and optimistic and strong, but you also need to make sure you are willing to back it up." He adds, "[W]e've got big challenges, and we don't have a lot of time for, you know, the usual nonsense. I think we've got to tell the American people the truth, and show them the way out of this mess."

The former governor is in Iowa to promote his book, "Courage to Stand." He is expected to announce his decision on a presidential run in March or April of this year. "I'll have a decision and announcement for you shortly," he told Fox & Friends.